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Open Thread 142.25

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit or the SSC Discord server.

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1,137 Responses to Open Thread 142.25

  1. Ketil says:

    Occasionally, there is talk here about machine learning. Anybody else attending NeurIPS? Or otherwise in Vancouver this week? Interested in meeting up for lunch, a beer, or whatever? I’ll check comments here, or email at ketil (a) malde (dot) org. Usual disclaimer: anybody is welcome to get in touch, no particular competence, interest, level of extraversion, or political leaning required. (Going one better than MLK, I won’t even judge you by the content of your character 🙂

  2. proyas says:

    Who are some A-list stars whose careers are declining?

  3. Machine Interface says:

    In fiction (paricularly science-fiction and fantasy), kingdoms and hereditary monarchies can be good or bad, but empires are almost always evil. There have been various attempts to explain this trope, but I have a hypothesis that this is just another case of the victors writing history.

    I’ve heard the end of World War I described as a victory of democracy over despotism, but to me it seems that it really was more of a victory of the new model of the culturally unified, centralized nation-state, over the old model of the culturally diverse, decentralized empire. The countries that went out of this war with the most damage to their reputation and territory where the large multicultural empires of Austria-Hungary, the Ottomans, and Russia (which was on the entente side of the conflict but was prematurely forced out of the war). Germany was more advanced in the process of nation-building, but the millions of Poles and other minorities living within it and being largely excluded from the project of the German nation effectively made its sitution similar to that of other Empires. Of the central powers, only Bulgaria really ressembled a modern nation-state at the time.

    By contrast, France, Italy, the UK, Serbia, Romania and the US were all well engaged in a process of cultural uniformisation and centralisation (to various degrees, some more agressively than others, and WWI itself was a factor in this — originally French batalions were region-based and soldiers in them tended to communicate using their local dialect, but after these batalions were severely decimated in the early stages of the war, the soldiers found themselves mixed together in reconstructed batalions and from this point had to use French as a common language).

    Since everything that happens is retroactively pattern-matched to fit the narrative of progress, from this follows the now conservative narrative that culturally homogeneous nation-states are good and that multiculturalism is bad, especially multicultural empires that “force” many different cultures together. This narrative is then bent to fit the events as they unfold — everyone celebrated Yugoslavia as a model example of nation-building when it was created, one people, one culture, a common language; and then when it failed everyone declared in hindsight that the faillure was obviously certain from the start, it was foolish to try to build a state with people from three different religions, etc.

    And the evil empire/good kingdom dichotomy is the manifestation of this trope in fiction (kingdoms can be good because they can be approximated to our modern idea of a nation-state, even though historical kingdoms were nothing like that). To me it shows, that many people vocally decry nationalism in its explicit form, they very much themselves embrace many of the ideas and preconceived notions of nationalism without realizing it and without naming them so. French people in general are rather hostile to explicit display of French nationalism which they associate with the far right, but have absolutely no problem saying things like “French is the language of France” or “France has the best system of public healthcare in the world” without questioning these assumptions.

    This is similar to how most fantasy and historical fiction set in premodern times tend to depict catholicism as obscurantist and evil, associated with the “dark ages”, whereas protestantism is portrayed as enlightened and associated with the renaissance — it’s mostly because this corpus of fiction has largely been written by protestants then by secular writers with an anti-clerical slant who recyled tropes invented by protestant authors, and then to this day makes people write thing like “Islam needs a Reformation”.

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      I think you are overthinking it. Empire sounds larger than Kingdom and therefore more powerful. So it’s easier to invoke imagine of underdog, and most protagonists are underdogs.

    • John Schilling says:

      In fiction (paricularly science-fiction and fantasy), kingdoms and hereditary monarchies can be good or bad, but empires are almost always evil.

      Except for(*) the Barrayaran Empire, the Manticoran Star Empire, The Empire of Man, The Second Empire of Man, the Galactic Empire, the Terran Empire, the Third Imperium, and of course the Byzantine and British Empires in any alternate-history fiction where they still exist. Just off the top of my head. Some of these are merely better than the alternative, but the protagonists are at least trying to preserve the Empire, not replace it with something better still.

      *Bujold, Weber, Pournelle, Niven+Pournelle, Asimov, Anderson, Miller, and too numerous to count, in that order

      • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

        Is the Star Empire of Manticore clearly a counter-example, though? At the start of the series, it’s the Star Kingdom, after all. And while its opponent is the Republic of Haven, Haven still is very much a broad, diverse empire ruling hundreds of stars versus the culturally unified and homogeneous Star Kingdom.

        • John Schilling says:

          The Star Kingdom becomes the Star Empire, in name and in fact, partway through the series. This is considered by all right-thinking people to be a Good Thing. So yes, it counts.

          And as the OP is talking about fictional iconography, only polities with “Empire” in the name ought to count. You can make a case for the People’s Republic of Haven being an empire in fact, and for that matter you can make a case for the United Federation of Planets being an empire in fact, but the writers chose not to call them “Empires” because they didn’t want the audience to think of them as empires.

          • Nornagest says:

            for that matter you can make a case for the United Federation of Planets being an empire in fact

            I’d read that essay.

          • Lambert says:

            Which planet is extracting tithes or levies or whatever else from the others?

            I’m not terribly well-versed in my trek lore, but I thought it was a pretty equitable arrangement.

          • John Schilling says:

            I’m not terribly well-versed in my trek lore, but I thought it was a pretty equitable arrangement.

            We are told that it is an equitable arrangement, but I see a very Earth-centric Starfleet(*) that goes around alternately providing services to Earth colony worlds on the one hand, and on the other hand arranging for all the non-human worlds to ship the Federation their valuable dilithium, zenite, topaline, pergium, tritanium, unobtanium, or occasionally just A Piece of Their Action. We are told that Federation humans live in nigh unto a post-scarcity economy, and what we see of Earth looks like a gleaming utopia, but the periphery of the Federation clearly has people and aliens working hard for their money and not so much enjoying utopia.

            Mostly this is just careless worldbuilding an a POV not suited to deep understanding of the setting’s politics or economics, so you can make just about anything fit with a bit of work. A Democratic Terran Empire is one of the things that would fit.

            * Basically every Starfleet ship name in TOS – including the one nominally Vulcan-crewed starship – is drawn from Earthican naval history. The subsequent series aren’t much better about that.

          • DarkTigger says:

            Somewhere I once read a funny post about, every Federation official we ever see (even those with civilian titles) wearing Starfleet uniforms, and all of their prisons sound a lot like “re-education camps”.

    • The king/emperor dichotomy is fairly arbitrary. What makes a Persian king a king and a Chinese emperor an emperor? Our word for emperor just comes from the Romans being averse to calling someone king. It’s strange to use it outside that context.

      • The Nybbler says:

        In SF&F (maybe coming from real life), “emperor” tends to be applied to king-of-kings types, and an empire is a tightly bound polity-of-polities, with one primary among them.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        The term “emperor” was originally applied to non-Western rulers who claimed a universal rule of some kind. E.g., the Chinese Emperor claimed (or was understood by Western observers to claim) that all the world was rightfully subordinate to China, either under its direct rule or as a vassal. This was similar to the medieval conception of the Holy Roman Emperor being the secular head of Christendom (which ideally, of course, would cover the whole world), so the term Emperor was applied analogously to the Chinese ruler.

        I’m not sure whether the Persian King claimed any such unparalleled status, at least during the time when you started to have semi-regular Persian-European contact.

        • AnteriorMotive says:

          The Persian Emperor went by the styling “King of Kings” which is pretty archetypal emperor territory.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_of_Kings

        • That universalism is common for many people not called “emperors”: The Persian kings, the Islamic caliphs, the Mongol Khans. On the flip side, I don’t know much about Japanese history but I doubt the emperor conceived of himself in the same way that the Chinese did themselves. China cast a great shadow. Japan didn’t.

        • sfoil says:

          The King of Persia pretty much gets grandfathered in because his office long predates the use of the word “emperor”. If the Greeks had had a separate word for “emperor”, they would have used it for the King of Persia. As it was, they sort of referred to him as the capital-K King in comparison to your more run of the mill monarch. He styled himself “King of Kings”. By virtually any later definition of king vs emperor, he was an emperor.

          @Wrong Species
          Here is my understanding: Rather than merely “king”, 皇, Qin Shi Huang called himself “皇帝”, a title we call “Emperor” in English. The characters mean something pretty close to “God-King”, “帝” on its own being a term sometimes translated as “Thearch” used as the title of certain legendary rulers such as the Yellow Emperor. Qin ruled in the third century BC.

          The historical origins of the Japanese imperial line are pretty vague, but they were using the title 天皇, “Heavenly King”, which is also translated as “Emperor”, by the 7th century AD. As far as I can tell, this use of two different titles and specifically the Japanese exclusion of 帝 allowed the two monarchs to both claim, in their respective territories, that they were the Biggest King Ever without actually having to come out and say that they were bigger than that other guy over there.

          Some vassals of the Chinese emperor retained the title of king, 皇. Certainly the rulers of various states in what is now Korea, although I think there were others. These “kings” were often explicitly subservient to the Chinese Emperor, even if the actual gestures were sometimes perfunctory.

          What I’m about to write is something I was told by a biased source that I’ve never independently confirmed. In the late 19th century, the Japanese at least occasionally starting referring to the Meiji Emperor as 皇帝, an explicit and undeniable claim of equality with the Chinese emperor (the Chinese were not in much shape to object at this point, having among other things lost wars with the Japanese) and more concretely as entitled to subjugate the 皇帝’s vassal states, including Korea. As a result, the King of Korea — whose traditional status as an equal to the Japanese monarch under Chinese suzerainty no longer reflected reality — declared himself a 皇帝, emperor, and inaugurated the Empire of Korea, the state that was eventually subjugated by the Japanese.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Here is my understanding: Rather than merely “king”, 皇, Qin Shi Huang called himself “皇帝”, the word we usually called “Emperor” in English. The characters mean something pretty close to “God-King”, “帝” on its own being a term sometimes translated as “Thearch” used as the title of certain legendary rulers such as the Yellow Emperor. Qin ruled in the third century BC.

            Yes, the title created by Qin Shi Huang would be transliterated as “God-King” or even “God-Emperor”, rather than plain “Emperor.”
            Of course, in the Pagan phase of the Roman Dominate, “dominus et deus” was a title of the Emperor… and that godhood could be abdicated, making one a cabbage-farming mortal…

          • onyomi says:

            Reminds me of the Pharaoh’s “double crown” symbolizing rule of upper and lower Egypt.

            Related, I’ve read a theory that Chinese di 帝 shares an etymology with Latin deus. No idea if it’s right, though.

          • sfoil says:

            @onyomi: The deus/Zeus/Dyeus vs 帝/Dì similarity is a hell of a coincidence if they’re not actually related.

          • Lambert says:

            Not really. It’s like, one consonant the same.
            How many consonants are there? If you want to really split hairs and include every language, maybe 100?

          • sfoil says:

            “Di” is well established as being the original proto-Indo-European stem of “Zeus” (it was preserved as such in some ancient Greek dialects and noun forms). Both it and 帝 pretty clearly refer to a “bright”, “heavenly” or “skyward” conception of an important deity rather than say a telluric one. The connection isn’t absolutely proven but it’s a pretty suspicious similarity that goes beyond having similar sounds.

          • onyomi says:

            Also, the “departing tone” the word di currently has (corresponds to Mandarin “4th tone”) is widely understood to have developed from an -s suffix that once existed. In the time of Qin Shi Huang, the character was probably pronounced more like tˤek-s.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Our word for emperor just comes from the Romans being averse to calling someone king. It’s strange to use it outside that context.

        That’s the origin, but that doesn’t mean that they used it narrowly. If they had only used “empire” to refer to themselves, then it might be weird that we use it more broadly. But they did talk about the Persian Empire. In fact, that may have been a propaganda move to prove that it wasn’t special pleading.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Actually, when did the Romans start calling their state an Empire? The link above says that they talked about the Persian Empire during the Principate, so probably they called other states Empires before their own.

          • DarkTigger says:

            Imperium was a word that refered to the powers a Roman governor had in his province. Which inculuded such (in roman eyes) anti-republican things as the power over live and death, and the right to command troops.
            This then was then transfered to the power Ceasar and his successors had over all of Rome. As part of the act where they pretended to still be incredebly anti-monarchical, while having an heritable strongman at the center of the state, that defenetly wasn’t an king!

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Right, Augustus lied and didn’t call it an empire. So when did Romans call it an empire? There’s no reason imperium should turn into an important title for a person or a state, but it did, eventually. And it probably happened for external states like Persia first.

            Julius, dictator for life, claimed imperium over the city of Rome. Augustus may have used the title imperator, but it wasn’t his principal title and I don’t think it explicitly claimed imperium over Rome.

            Governors have imperium and kings have imperium, but they rule provinces and kingdoms, not empires. Why call the Persian kingdom an empire?

            (Actually, consuls and lower offices did claim imperium over the city, just not as much as provincial governors in their domain or dictators.)

    • The original Mr. X says:

      I dunno, Britain and France were both pretty unabashed about running empires both during and after WW1. I suspect the vogue for anti-imperialism in fiction is mostly a result of American cultural ascendancy, since the US began as an anti-colonial rebellion and so it’s easy for Americans to pattern-match “fighting an empire = like us = good”.

    • AnteriorMotive says:

      To the extent that it’s not a cosmetic/arbitrary distinction, the thing that differentiates an empire from a kingdom is that whereas a king rules a single people/location, and emperor rules many peoples/many far-flung regions.

      It’s easy to see how ruling over many subject peoples will skew villainous. And how the Empire get all that land, if not through conquest?

    • eigenmoon says:

      I haven’t seen anybody attacking Belgium or Switzerland as evil for being multi-cultural.

      it was foolish to try to build a state with people from three different religions
      That’s what Bosnia and Herzegovina is, so it’s still an option.

      • Lambert says:

        It’s about the power relationships between the cultures.
        None of the Cantons, nor Wall or Flanders are exploting the other cultures for their own gain in the way Rome or Britain or Athens (or even the CONUS) did.

    • Snickering Citadel says:

      King gets used in fairy tales a lot. So fantasy that is closer to fairy tales is more likely to use kings than emperors. And also to be unrealistic, and so can have good kings. More realistic fantasy will tend to aknowledge that non-democratic governments are terrible.

      Fantasy for children will have good kings. Disney movies etc.

    • Milo Minderbinder says:

      Lots of stories with “good” kings tend to be from stories that predate (large) democracies. Empires, as you say, tend to have a number of minority cultures/ethnicities who may remember a time before imperial oppression, real or imagined. In pre-modern times the restoration of a kingship within one of these empires might be synonymous with the creation of an independent ethnostate, free of the metropole’s grasp. People have historically been more willing to pay taxes to monarchs who spoke their language and observed their holy days.

      Also, two of the most influential pieces of media ever (the New Testament and Star Wars) prominently feature large empires as antagonistic. Stories are rarely original, and you could do a lot worse than copying the aforementioned.

      • GearRatio says:

        Serious question: Can Star Wars still credibly claim to be more influential than Pokémon, and for how long?

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          I’m 41, Pokemon to me is almost as familiar as Pogs, and I played with Pogs maybe once or twice (Pokemon, never).

          Likewise how notable is Pokemon to the younger Gen Zers?

          Star Wars has the Boomers and Xers, as well as some of the Millennials and Zers.

          • GearRatio says:

            Pokemon is basically universal among the 6-12 year olds I know, and I know dozens. So I’d say “basically every male millennial and Z” isn’t that far off.

            It’s also much, much bigger than star wars dollar-for-dollar, which was what I was commenting on initially.

            I actually think your age is probably about the cut-off for “no real big chance of being into pokemon”. The serious advent of Pokemon into popular culture hit when I was 13-14, so around when you were 21. It would be more surprising to me if you were into it unless you were pretty Otaku-ish to begin with.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Then we’re probably pretty close to the tipping point, though I do wish the dollar amounts were adjusted for inflation, or literally just actual purchase numbers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-grossing_media_franchises

            Star Wars action figures were on the order of <$2 each in the 80s (I think I remember buying some with my $2 weekly allowance). Equivalent Pokemon action figures today seem to be around 5 times the price.

          • GearRatio says:

            You do have a point with adjusted dollars – it could be that changes things.

            Side note: I saw that chart earlier today when thinking about this, and the huge surprise for me isn’t so much Pokemon as it is Hello Kitty.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Hello Kitty was pretty noticeable in Japan when I visited as a 12 year old.

            Apparently I had to save up one and a half weeks allowance for those Star Wars action figures: http://toyworth.com/browse/action/figure/Star/Wars/88.html
            Original retail price: $2.99

    • zardoz says:

      Bret Devereaux wrote a great essay about what separates an empire from a kingdom. In short,

      … an empire is a state where the core ruling population exercises control and extracts resources from a periphery which is composed of people other than the core group (linguistically/culturally/ethnically/religiously distinct).

      He goes on to add that empires don’t require monarchies.

      So imperialism isn’t about making your state bigger, but more about taking over and controlling other states filled with different populations.

      Empires and imperialism are generally considered bad things now, so it’s no surprise that they would be portrayed negatively in fiction as well. (The Roman Empire gets grandfathered in because Rome is cool. And most of the people they conquered didn’t leave too much in the way of written records… except maybe the Jews.)

      • Radu Floricica says:

        Yeap. Kings can be good or bad – it’s one method of organization among many. Empires are extractive institutions by definition, it’s always “us” and “them”, and only one side is ruling. I don’t think even an Emperor could prevent this if he wanted: the ruling class is by necesity of only one ethnicity, and they won’t share his wish.

        An anecdote I encountered recently. In my country, Transylvania was brought from the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918. For a while now, the neigboring Hungary has been more developed than Romania, so there is a (small) undercurrent of regret with the locals – like things would have been better if we were still with the Austro-Hungarians, or the rest of the country keeps voting for the bad guys (which is true, in all honesty). This kind of thing.

        Well, a couple of weeks ago I’ve seen the statistcs. Transylvania is better now by all possible metrics. It’s doing so well that it’s actually doing better than the Hungarian territory right across the border – actually better than about all Hungary, except the capital region. Turns out being in your own country is a lot better for you than being in an empire.

        • ana53294 says:

          There was the issue of the Germans in Transylvania, you know. And other nice things communists did in Romania.

          Some people would prefer not having people forcefully driven away, good economy or not.

      • Machine Interface says:

        I think that definition excludes a lot of the historical empires though. Charlemagne’s Empire and the Holy Roman Empire do not fit this model, which I think ascribes too much weight to “Colonial Empires” as prototypical of what an Empire is, even though it’s actually a completely distinct category — the French Colonial Empire saw its peak under a Parliamentary Republic organized along the Nation-State model.

        • pontifex says:

          Well, the Holy Roman Empire was famously neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire 🙂

          Charlemagne’s domains spanned several modern day countries and ethnic groups, which does seem kind of empire-y, although I’m not an expert on that time in history.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            It did span several ethnic groups, but I’m not sure that the “exploiting peripheries for the benefit of the core” model is really accurate, at least not if we take “core” to mean “ethnic Franks”.

          • pontifex says:

            Sure, Charlemagne’s domain isn’t really a central example of an empire, even if he did call himself an emperor. There was some transfer of resources going on (or at least various kingdoms willing to provide troops on demand) but it was pretty paltry by the standards of Rome. And it was divided up after his death.

            Better examples would be the empires of Athens, Rome, Cathage, the Mongols, etc.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          @Machine Interface: the French colonial Empire was often ruled by a parliamentary republic, and conversely the Roman Emperor in Constantinople was basically the head of a nation-state after the Muslims conquered the East and Egypt.

      • Lambert says:

        Anyone know enough about postwar India to evaluate the claim that it’s really an empire?
        It’s something I’d heard thrown around a few times. Guessing the core is ‘Hindu Hindi Hindustan’ and the periphery is everyone else.

  4. You ever notice how people on movies and tv shows don’t seem to have friends? Sure, there are exceptions, especially in certain genres, but the default seems to be that the main character socializes at work, has “friends” with people he rarely gets together with and somebody they are dating/married to with possible kids. Is this a reflection of how life is now or is it just a constraint for entertainment to simplify the amount of characters used?

    • Well... says:

      Constraint. It’s been pretty common for a while. For each “friend” that appears onscreen you have to do the work of bringing that character to life as a writer, then in product you have to cast and pay and wardrobe and block and light and direct another actor. Much simpler to keep the cast as small as it can plausibly be.

      • meh says:

        yup… people get confused by too many characters. the ‘friendless’ people OP is talking about somehow have rooms full of friends if they have a party; you’ve just not been introduced to any of them.

    • Plumber says:

      @Wrong Species >

      “…the default seems to be that the main character socializes at work, has “friends” with people he rarely gets together with and somebody they are dating/married to with possible kids. Is this a reflection of how life is now…”

      Not true for my youth, but that’s a good summary of the last 25+ years of my life.

      My wife is a stay-at-home Mom and she has far less acquaintances than me, but she knows other Mom’s that she hasn’t met through work.

    • sidereal says:

      Frankly, I think that’s backwards. A television character is shown as having a richer social life than an average person.

      • Some genres are exceptions. The “hangout sitcom” is premised on following some friends around. And high school teen movies are about the byzantine social system of that environment. But when it’s not the premise, it happens less. For example, take a look at The Office. The characters there go to work, and then go home to either their families or alone. Isn’t it weird how an affable guy like Jim doesn’t seem to have friends? I don’t expect them to deeply follow the inner lives of every character, and I understand the constraints but it often really stands out to me.

        • Randy M says:

          But Jim does have friends, with whom he formed a business in the latter episodes. Dwight even has a cousin(?), a paintball buddy, and here and there another associate.
          That’s a bad show to test the question since it’s premise is cameras designed to capture what happens at work. You wouldn’t know I had friends and barely know I had family from having a film crew follow me around office hours.

      • meh says:

        this is mostly due to their ability to spend 6+ hours at the same bar/cafe every day

    • A1987dM says:

      Among people who moved to their current town as adults (especially if already married), it’s not terribly rare to not have many friends (outside work and family) in real life, either. But these people are underrepresented among the ones you know for, ahem, the obvious reason.

    • brad says:

      the main character socializes at work, has “friends” with people he rarely gets together with and somebody they are dating/married to with possible kids.

      This is pretty accurate reflection of life in the 30s for people I know. It does leave out the regular texting and occasional phone calls with those friends we rarely get to see face to face.

    • AG says:

      And how do these friends drive the plot in a consistent way?

      It’s about conservation of resources.

  5. The Nybbler says:

    As I once described, a not-even-alpha SSC comments search engine. It’s a few days out of date (right now I have a way of replacing the entire index, but no incremental updates), the UI is crappy and functionality limited.

    Examples of stuff that I think works:
    * author search: author:Nybbler
    * post title search: post:Links
    * post tag search: tag:open
    * comment date search: date:>2019-01-01 or date:<2019-12-01
    * post date search: postDate:>2019-01-01 or postDate:<2019-01-01
    * “Phrase Search” (can be combined with post: and author:)
    * If there’s no “:”, it’s searching the comment text.

    Fun fact: The index has approximately 647,000 comments in it.

    Technical details: The search engine is Elasticsearch 6 (open source version), the front-end is ReactJS and the middle is Express. The front-end and middle are running on RedHat’s OpenShift cloud (free tier) and the search engine is running on a server in an undisclosed location somewhere in the Catoctin Mountains.

    Security and Privacy: It’s not even https. The NSA, Redhat (a.k.a. IBM), Microsoft, me, and every bored blackhat in the world know what you’re searching for and what you did last summer. (And they can mess with your results).

    • sharper13 says:

      That’s awesome, and fast. Love it!

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      Thank you very much.

      How would I search for replies to me? Or for a link?

      More generally, is there a source for the vocabulary for searches?

      • The Nybbler says:

        Links are currently not searchable. I don’t think they would be too difficult to add. Search format could be “url:” followed by the link. (Not “link:” because it would be confusing to search geeks like myself who know that as a now-deprecated Google feature meaning in-links rather than out-links)

        Reply-to would be a bit more difficult; Elasticsearch is good at text searching but bad at hierarchy (it allows it but with restrictions). Reply-to author only would be possible though, but I’ll have to think about how to do it.

        The source vocabulary for the search is the Lucene query syntax, but it’s heavily restricted to avoid things that could overload the server (wildcards are blocked, for instance). The only field names are the ones I’ve provided; any others are blocked.

    • Nick says:

      Aw, you’re awesome. I tried searching for an exchange between us a while back ("Vampires suck") and it was the top two results. Tried searching author:Nick, and that transitions to other Nicks like Nick Land and Nick T on page 349, so I’ve apparently made 3489 comments on SSC. TIL.

    • CatCube says:

      This is awesome and bookmarked. Thanks. I recall some comments that I had trouble finding a while back and was able to pull them up much more easily already.

      Any chance you could post these instructions there, or at least a link back here? I can see the spectacle of my using the comment search engine to try to find the instructions for the comment search engine in my mind’s eye already.

    • Atlas says:

      Very cool and useful, thanks.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Link searching is implemented, the instructions are at the top (UI design = totally not my thing), and the index is a bit more up to date. No reply-to-author yet though.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      I think I may be totally computer illiterate, but could you explain how to use that search engine? I tried putting in a date and I got nonsensical answers. I put in my name and got some things that seemed to be to me, but I couldn’t figure out how to get to the actual comment. Much less find an actual thread like Nick discusses below. Is this just something that computer geeks all know, or am I just ignorant? 🙂

      Edit: okay I have at least partly figured it out by playing with it. But is there a way to search two things at once: say a phrase and a date? Thanks.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Searching for multiple things at once is just entering them both in the box. So author:"Mark V Anderson" "economic power" "first world" finds anything by you, or with “economic power”, or with “first world”, with better matches resulting in higher placement in the list.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Could you make the links to SSC be https?

      • The Nybbler says:

        I didn’t realize they weren’t. Looks like new ones are and old ones aren’t. I’ll see if I can rewrite without re-scraping the whole site.

  6. Another Throw says:

    Let’s all take a step back from the ongoing impeachment process to discuss the much more pressing legal drama playing out in a federal court in Los Angeles:

    Elon Musk not liable for defamation for mean tweets!

    Is anyone actually surprised?

    • pansnarrans says:

      I’m kind of surprised, if we’re talking about the thing where he called someone a paedophile for no reason at all. That sounds quite a lot like defamation to me.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I strongly agree. Pedophilia is a serious accusation.

      • Tarpitz says:

        I think in many jurisdictions it would be, but in the US I think he’d actually have to be falsely claiming some specific fact rather than just implying “White dude lives in Thailand -> probably a pedo”.

        • pansnarrans says:

          “White dude lives in Thailand -> probably a pedo”.

          Was that the ‘logic’ of his statement? It came off as “nobody would want to rescue teenagers if they didn’t want to sleep with them”.

          • Tarpitz says:

            There is a stereotype of middle aged white Westerners going to South East Asia in order to have sex with children. It’s similar to calling someone from Wales or New Zealand a sheep-shagger – a well-worn, not very funny joke.

          • DarkTigger says:

            I seldom heared it as pedophile, but sex-tourism as standard reason to go to Thailand is a very common trope around here.

      • GearRatio says:

        In the US it’s purposefully pretty hard to get defamation to stick for an insult. If musk had said “this guy is a pedophile; he has sex with children” or especially if he had said “This guy is a pedophile, here’s who/what/where on why” then it would be pretty easy to argue that’s a statement of fact rather than just trying to hurt feelings.

        A jury decided calling somebody a “pedo guy” could be taken in other ways than a factual statement, so he’s cool. I’m VERY glad about this – right now the rich guy is on the defense, but it’s not like that every time. I’ve seen Britain’s way of handling libel/slander in action enough to decide it seems custom-made to let rich guys use court costs and the defendant-unfriendly rules to shut up criticism. I’ll take the US version any day of the week.

      • John Schilling says:

        Saying words that would cause a reasonable listener to believe “[redacted] has sex with small children” is defamation. Saying words that would cause a reasonable person to believe “Elon Musk really really doesn’t like [redacted]”, is not defamation even if one of the words used to say that is “pedo”.

        Context matters, and nobody actually believed that “pedo guy” was actually a pedophile. Or if there was some community in Thailand that takes the trash talk of American billionaires as gospel truth and so engaged in a damaging campaign of ostracism against him, his lawyers neglected to bring that up in court. No harm, beyond the baseline aggravation of being insulted, so no (legal) foul.

        It’s the equivalent of saying “God damn you!”, when everybody involved knows full well that God has not in fact condemned the target to eternal damnation in the fires of Hell.

      • ana53294 says:

        Calling somebody a “pedo” or “motherfucker” or “slut” does not commonly mean a libelous accusation of paedophilia, motherfucking, engaging in paid sex, or other activities. It just means you don’t like a person.

        Most people would only say it’s libelous if you say concrete things, like saying so and so spent many hours alone with [redacted] child, after which they were severely traumatised. Or bullshit accusations like saying the cave was a pedo lair the diver lured the children into to take advantage of them (Pizzagate level stuff).

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        According to a journalist who interviewed a jury member, the plaintiff failed to prove that the accusation of “pedo guy” was about this guy in particular, which was one of the required elements.

        Musk just barely skated by on this one. Like many other individuals, he needs to get the fuck off of Twitter before he causes himself harm that actually sticks.

      • rmtodd says:

        I read somewhere (can’t find the reference right now, alas) someone quoting an interview with one of the members of the jury saying that their grounds for the decision was that the tweet in question didn’t give enough context to make it clear that it was actually referring to this guy (it didn’t, for instance, mention the guy’s name).

    • Purplehermann says:

      I’m kinda surprised Elon didn’t mess with the judges and get slapped on the wrist. “Listen your honor, he’s a white man vacationing in Thailand, do you really believe he’s not a pedo? ”
      (Though demanding the guy apologize for insulting his submarine… hahaha)

  7. One of my concerns about Biden is that, although his political position should make him the strongest candidate against Trump, his personality may make him the weakest. Trump is good at bullying people, as demonstrated during the nomination campaign, and Biden doesn’t look like someone who would be good at fighting back. People like to support a winner, a leader, and if Trump looks strong and Biden weak in the debates, that will help Trump.

    That raises a question: Could Biden get away with refusing to debate, perhaps on the grounds that he doesn’t want to dignify Trump by treating him as if he was a reasonable person who could be argued with?

    • EchoChaos says:

      Could Biden get away with refusing to debate, perhaps on the grounds that he doesn’t want to dignify Trump by treating him as if he was a reasonable person who could be argued with?

      Almost certain loser. Might have been barely possible for Hillary in the 2016 election, but Trump is the President of the United States. He’s been running the country for four years. Playing the “he’s not a reasonable candidate” card has no prayer at this point.

    • Vosmyorka says:

      One of my concerns about Biden is that, although his political position should make him the strongest candidate against Trump, his personality may make him the weakest. Trump is good at bullying people, as demonstrated during the nomination campaign, and Biden doesn’t look like someone who would be good at fighting back.

      Is there a reason for this? Biden is the only candidate on the Democratic side on record simply insulting voters he disagrees with, has a Trumpian habit of challenging opponents to physical exercises and IQ tests, and at least likes to tell the story of how he faced down a gangster with a switchblade. Not necessarily even disagreeing with you, but I’d be interested to hear why you think so.

      The most bully-able of the major candidates seems to me to be Warren; somebody coming from academia would not be used to someone like Trump talking down to her. (Yang might be vulnerable to this kind of thing too). People who come from municipal politics in working-class areas — like Biden, or Sanders, or for that matter Harris, Booker, Buttigieg, or Gabbard — seem to me like they should have an instinct for how to handle themselves in that situation.

      • I’m reacting to his public persona–your favorite uncle, more or less–and his age. Of course, Trump is old too, but it doesn’t seem to slow him down.

        But I don’t follow politics very closely and could easily be wrong.

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          I had the same impression of Biden, likewise based on not following too closely. The video of him browbeating the questioner was an eye-opener for me. You don’t gotta love Crazy Uncle Joe when he acts like that.

      • broblawsky says:

        I don’t think Warren is particularly bully-able; she’s a former debate champ, and she’s done well at each of the Democratic debates. I’m not sure about Yang – he’s a little bit too reasonable. He might make the mistake of trying to engage with Trump at a debate.

      • John Schilling says:

        Is there a reason for this? Biden is the only candidate on the Democratic side on record simply insulting voters he disagrees with, has a Trumpian habit of challenging opponents to physical exercises and IQ tests, and at least likes to tell the story of how he faced down a gangster with a switchblade.

        Yeah, that would be the “not good at fighting back” part for me. The claim isn’t that Biden won’t fight back, just that he won’t be very good at it. And the “damn liar” bit in Iowa yesterday, suggests that this is a reasonable concern. Put Biden on a stage where people are insulting him, and he gets flustered and pushes back in ways signal instability, intemperance, and cluelessness rather than strength, intelligence, and wisdom.

        Not that Trump is any better, of course, but Trump’s base likes that sort of stuff in ways that the Democratic base mostly doesn’t.

        So I agree that there’s a risk for Biden in debating Trump, but I don’t think he can win by hiding from it.

        • albatross11 says:

          I expect a Biden/Trump debate would be very entertaining–two uninformed blowhards blustering at each other, each saying silly/crazy/dumb things right and left. Once the producers attach an appropriately-timed laugh-track, it’ll be great.

        • quanta413 says:

          I’m kind of hoping for a Biden/Trump debate that’s a tire fire.

          Presidential debates are always ridiculous and unserious, but it’d be amazing to for the pretense to just totally drop and for it to break down into an argument over who can do more push ups. Maybe one candidate will throw out their back trying to prove they can deadlift more.

    • An Fírinne says:

      although his political position should make him the strongest candidate against Trump

      Opinion polls have consistently shown that Sanders polls best against Trump. Biden is Hillary Clinton 2.0 but senile. Trump would walk all over him on stage. It baffles me that some people think the way to beat Trump is to essentially rehash the failed 2016 election strategy

      As Einstein said – The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

      • John Schilling says:

        Opinion polls have consistently shown that Sanders polls best against Trump.

        This does not appear to be the case. The polling average at RealClearPolitics gives Sanders a +8.5% edge over Trump, but Biden wins at +9.9% (and to round out the A-listers, Warren +7.3%, Buttigeig +4.0%). Almost all of the polls recorded at 538 Politics, going back at least four months, show Biden having a stronger margin against Trump than Sanders.

        A private belief that Sanders offers the best chance of defeating Trump is understandable, but asserting that opinion polls consistently support this belief is a false statement that suggests something is off with your thought processes or your information sources.

      • BBA says:

        There is one major difference between Clinton and Biden. Biden is a man, and thus not subject to the misogyny (implicit and explicit) that hurt the Clinton campaign.

        The 2016 election was decided by razor-thin margins in the decisive states and the Clinton insiders* are convinced it was misogyny and Russian meddling that tipped the scales rather than their own moral rot. Nominating a man is an easy way to avoid confronting their own issues. And they still run the party machinery so we’re stuck with them.

        I’m still a registered Democrat but I’m not sure why anymore… local elections, I guess, and there’s always 2024.

        *Insiders as distinct from the Pantsuit Nation rank and file. These suburban wine moms were really gung-ho about nominating a lawyer lady who embodied their white professional-managerial class identity, and appear to be mostly backing Warren this time around. Warren and Clinton have almost nothing in common besides these superficial similarities, but that hasn’t stopped social media from replaying the 2016 primary flamewars with Warren’s photo pasted over Clinton’s. A bit ironic that Harris, whose campaign was based entirely on superficial appeal, couldn’t gain any ground because voters were even more superficial than her.

        • brad says:

          Moral rot? The first order issue wasn’t Russia, misogyny, or moral rot. It was a candidate that took charisma as a dump stat.

          • BBA says:

            One and the same. The nub of the issue was that she was perceived as being extremely untrustworthy, which is partly lack of charisma and partly that she actually was extremely untrustworthy.

          • Aapje says:

            The Clinton campaign argues that the meeting was merely rescheduled for other reasons.

            I don’t trust Ronan Farrow to not jump to conclusions.

    • HowardHolmes says:

      Excellent idea. If he goes on stage and loses the debate, it hurts him a lot. Refusing to debate, I think, shows strength and can send a positive message. Voters will not hold it against him. What affects them is what they see. I agree with you that it is a potential disaster.

    • I haven’t been paying much attention to the debates but I’m not sure why you think Biden would be seen as weak. Sleepy? Sure. But it’s not like he’s going to cower in Trumps presence.

    • Plumber says:

      @DavidFriedman, 
      Your question about Biden (and all the autopsies on the Harris campaign this week) has me musing about the Democratic primary candidates and “identity affinity” candidates in general. 

      I’ll start not with Biden and the rest of the Democrats but with Republicans:
      Republicans Party supporters are overwhelmingly white (and a bit more men than women), and most Republican candidates are white but since the 1965 Voting Rights Act the number of popularly elected non-white governors and senators that are Democrats and Republicans is about equal. 

      “white conservatives are either more supportive of minority Republicans or just as likely to vote for a minority as they are a white Republican”…

       …”the base of the GOP does not discriminate against minority nominees in high-profile contemporary general elections”

      Huh.

      Looks like Republicans are more interested in electing candidates who’ll advance their agenda rather than who is “one of us”

      (I’ll leave you to think of parallels with Trump and his Evangelical supporters).

      Back to Biden (and the other Democrats):

      Compared to most Democrats Biden’s supporters on average are older, without college diplomas, and blacker than most other Democrats. 

      Biden is certainly older, but he went to law school instead of Vietnam, and he’s not black. 

      Huh.

      Booker is black, and he’s polling in the single digits, Harris is black-ish, and she dropped out, neither had much black support – lots of ink and pixels have been spilled stating that “black voters prioritize a candidate who’ll win in the general election more than other Democrats” – or words to that effect. 

      Speaking of candidates polling in the single digits, across the street my neighbor has a Tulsi Gabbard sign on his lawn, she’s young, her supporters tend to be young, and overwhelmingly male.

      Pete Buttigieg is also young, he’s white, and a road scholar, his supporters are usually white, and college educated, but not particularly young.

      Young Democrats disproportionately support Sanders, who is not young.

      Not to quite the extent as Sanders, but Warren’s supporters also skew young, which she is not, she does have a few more women than men supporters so I suppose that’s “identity affinity”.

      So far “like me” doesn’t look much like it’s a factor for voters, I did see some reports of young women ‘tweeting’ “Don’t vote for a white male”, and with that groundswell of a movement there’s…

      …one woman in an all white top five of Democratic Party candidates.

      On the “Great Awokening”:
      Beto O’Rourke said he’d “tax churches” and “take away guns”, got applauded at a debate for that…

      …and he dropped out because of lack of support. 

      Kirsten Gillibrand was explicitly feminist and said she’d “explain white privilege”…

      …and she dropped out because of lack of support. 

      To some extent Sanders and to a bit more extent Warren speak “woke”, but mostly they campaign on fighting “corruption” and “income inequality”.

      Huh. 

      Anyway, to your question, while it may be wise for Biden to refuse to debate Trump (he’s been okay for first hour of previous debates, but he falters in the second hour), I doubt his pride will let him.

      I do agree that Biden has the best chance out of the crew in the general election, despite Hunter. 

      Maybe they’ll be switchblades. 

      I hope he says “malarkey” again. 

      Sanders is the second best chance, but only if he inspires non-voters to vote more than he scares likely voters. 

      Warren I think has less of a chance, as Trump may come to the debate in a feathered Indian head dress.

      Buttigieg? 

      Not gonna happen, without black turnout no Democrat will win, and I don’t think he’ll get it.

      Bloomberg? 

      He’d do as well as Mitt Romney did in 2012.

      The rest?

      They probably won’t get the nomination so I haven’t bothered to guess how they’d do in the general election. 

  8. Atlas says:

    There’s been a lot of commentary about the virtues of Utah’s social model, right? (E.g.) I think a lot of this is well-founded, but one interesting thing to consider is suicide rates. I had assumed, after hearing a lot of reactionary arguments about the alleged loneliness, isolation, meaninglessness, etc. of modern life, and not hearing a ton of pushback (which I have heard more of now), that Utah would have extremely low suicide rates. Whereas the Godless, materialistic, atomized, etc. residents of other states would naturally see no purpose in their lives and would want to end it at high rates, the community, family, faith, stability, etc. of Utah would give its residents purpose and meaning in their lives, and thus deter them from suicide. (See this Stefan Molyneux video for I think a reasonably typical representation of this social conservative world view.)

    But I was genuinely quite surprised when I looked this up, and found the relevant data from the CDC. It turns out that Utah actually has quite a high suicide rate—at 22.7/100,000, the 6th highest of the 50 states. By contrast, New York, at 8.1 has the lowest of the 50, Massachusetts at 9.5 the 3rd lowest, and California at 10.5 the 5th lowest.

    I’d conjecture that this doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on Utah, specifically, because demographics and gun ownership might be important factors. However, I do think that this seems like a possible piece of evidence against some social conservative beliefs.

    • albatross11 says:

      Two things that may be confounders (but I don’t know):

      a. I believe whites have a higher suicide rate than nonwhites in the US. (At least higher than blacks and hispanics.) Utah is a very white state, so some of what you’re seeing may just reflect different racial statistics in Utah vs, say, New York.

      b. Utah skews rather younger than other places in the US because of the large number of big families and the cultural tendency to marry young. I’m not sure how this interacts with suicide statistics, but it probably has some effect.

      Along with that, I’d guess access to guns is a big extra factor. Gun suicides are way more likely to succeed than most other ways people try.

      • Why do white people have higher suicide rates?

        • Atlas says:

          There’s a theory that suicide and homicide rates are inversely correlated. From The Rise and Fall of Violent Crime in America:

          Suicide and Homicide For over a century since Emile Durkheim first mentioned it, observers have been fascinated by the apparent inverse relationship between suicide and homicide. It remains a mystery still. Is it generally valid? And if so, why is it that population groups that murder others more kill themselves less? One explanation, propounded by psychologist Martin Gold, originator of the suicide-murder ratio, is that corporal punishment in child rearing leads to outwardly expressed aggression, while children punished psychologically, as opposed to physically, are more apt to turn their aggression against themselves. Gold linked child-rearing practices to social class: lower-class parents seemed to favor the strap over the scolding. He thought this explained why violent crime was much more common in the lower than in the middle class.84 What it does not explain is why violent crime rises and falls when social groups remain in the low socioeconomic stratum or why violent crime rates vary among these groups. Gold’s theory has not inspired much criminological research; nonetheless, studies suggest that the relationship cannot be dismissed out of hand. While criminologists have shown, for instance, that homicide rates are lower among poor whites than poor blacks, family researchers have found that low-income African American parents spank their toddlers significantly more frequently than low-income white parents.85 Subsequent research on suicide by psychiatrist Herbert Hendin has thrown cold water on the entire suicide-homicide theory.86 His 1960s study of young African Americans aged 20 to 35 found exceptionally high suicide rates. Indeed, suicide was twice as frequent among young blacks of both sexes as among white men of the same age. The oft-observed black-white suicide differentials, it turns out, were products of a failure to take age into account. After age 45, suicide among whites was so much higher than among blacks of the same age that the total white rate rose above the total black.87 Both suicide and homicide, Hendin argued, are driven by impulses of extreme violence, which may be directed at another person, inward toward the seething actor himself, or, as with homicide-suicide, both. Some homicides, as criminologist Marvin Wolfgang noted, are victim-precipitated, that is, caused by the the actor. A subcategory of these suicides disguised as homicides is referred to as “suicide by cop.” which occurs when the actor engages in violent behavior knowing that it probably will provoke fatal retaliation by the authorities.88 “Suicide,” Hendin wrote, “is often the outgrowth of a devastating struggle to deal with conscious rage and conscious murderous impulses.” In the case of young blacks, he noted, high rates of both homicide and suicide coexist and have done so at least as far back as the 1920s. Hendin concluded, “Among young adult blacks there is a direct relation, not an inverse one, between suicide and violence. It rests on the particular black experience in our culture, an experience that generates violence within blacks and presents them with a problem of controlling it.”89

      • Atlas says:

        Two things that may be confounders (but I don’t know)

        Indeed, and, to be clear, when I said that “I’d conjecture that this doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on Utah, specifically, because demographics and gun ownership might be important factors,” this is what I was referring to.

        b. Utah skews rather younger than other places in the US because of the large number of big families and the cultural tendency to marry young. I’m not sure how this interacts with suicide statistics, but it probably has some effect.

        The CDC table contains the note:

        Although [the figures I quoted from in OP are] adjusted for differences in age-distribution and population size, rankings by state do not take into account other state specific population characteristics that may affect the level of mortality.

        So take that as you will.

    • Rebecca Friedman says:

      I recall a link to an article, perhaps from here, about a surprisingly strong correlation between altitude and suicide rates; I believe they theorized a biological mechanism. Anyone else remember that, or how accurate it was?

    • Chalid says:

      A while ago, after reading one of these things praising Utah, I went and looked up various obvious metrics of societal success and found Utah to be not really exceptional on any of them. Murder rate is lowish but not that low, GDP per capita is lower than the US average, divorce rate on the high side, etc etc.

      It makes me think that people who like Utah’s social model for ideological reasons are trying to exaggerate its success.

      • Plumber says:

        @Chalid,
        What I’ve read praising Utah has been on their success in treating homelessness and that a child born poor there is less likely to be a poor adult than elsewhere in the U.S.A. (similar results occur when moving a poor mother and her under six years old children to a better neighborhood in Seattle, Washington from a worse neighborhood in Seattle, but a whole State as a better neighborhood? That’s intriguing!).

        Those aren’t nothing.

        • Chalid says:

          Not going to go dig through the paper now, but here’s a quick summary – look at #5 on upward mobility, it sure doesn’t seem to me like anything unique and special is going on with Utah, they’re just in a good part of the country for social mobility. It’s stupid or misleading to go and talk about the unique contributions of the Mormon Church to high mobility or whatever, when the everything from eastern Nevada to Iowa is also high mobility.

          And even if Utah is the best at promoting social mobility, why should I care more about that particular measure than per capita gdp, or murder rates, or life expectancy, or any number of other things. Certainly many of the commentators who go out of their way to praise Utah don’t usually see social mobility as one of their top issues.

          • Plumber says:

            @Chalid >

            “…even if Utah is the best at promoting social mobility, why should I care more about that particular measure than per capita gdp, or murder rates, or life expectancy, or any number of other things. Certainly many of the commentators who go out of their way to praise Utah don’t usually see social mobility as one of their top issues”

            Per capita GDP I care far less about, I agree that murder rates and life expectancy are very important measures. 

            Success in treating homelessness was one of the items that caught my eye about Utah (though more recently rising rents have pulled the legs out of those efforts, seems chronic alcoholism can be treated easier than ‘The rent is too damn high!’).

            But income mobility was what interested me in (specifically) Salt Lake City from the 20130’s NY Times piece:
            In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters

            “…Whatever the reasons, affluent children often remain so: one of every three 30-year-olds who grew up in the top 1 percent of the income distribution was already making at least $100,000 in family income, according to the new study. Among adults who grew up in the bottom half of the income distribution, only one out of 25 had family income of at least $100,000 by age 30.

            Yet the parts of this country with the highest mobility rates — like Pittsburgh, Seattle and Salt Lake City — have rates roughly as high as those in Denmark and Norway…”

            and then the 2017 McArdle piece (archive here, original Bloomberg News piece here) which I’ll quote in full:

            “Megan McArdle: How Utah has kept the American dream alive

            “For a girl raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Salt Lake City is a very weird place.

            I went to Utah precisely because it’s weird. More specifically, because economic data suggest that modest Salt Lake City, population 192,672, does something that the rest of us seem to be struggling with: It helps people move upward from poverty. I went to Utah in search of the American Dream.

            Columnists don’t talk as much as they used to about the American Dream. They’re more likely to talk about things like income mobility, income inequality, the Gini coefficient — sanitary, clinical terms. These are easier to quantify than a dream, but also less satisfying. We want money, yes, but we hunger even more deeply for something else: for possibility. It matters to Americans that someone born poor can retire rich. That possibility increasingly seems slimmer and slimmer in most of the nation, but in Utah, it’s still achievable.

            If you were born to parents who were doing well, you are likely to be doing well yourself. If you were born to parents who were not doing well, then you are likely to repeat their fate. To take just one metric of many: In a society in which a college degree is almost required for entry into the upper middle class, 77 percent of people whose families are in the top quarter of the earnings distribution secure a bachelor’s degree by the time they are 24. For people in the lowest income bracket, that figure is 9 percent.

            But things look a lot better in Salt Lake City, which has the nation’s highest rates of absolute upward mobility, according to economists Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, Patrick Kline and Emmanuel Saez, in their 2014 paper “Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States.” So I went to Utah to discover its secrets and assess whether they could be exported.

            Once I got there, I found that it’s hard to even get a complete picture of how Utah combats poverty, because so much of the work is done by the Mormon Church, which does not compile neat stacks of government figures for the perusal of eager reporters.

            The church did, however, give me a tour of its flagship social service operation, known as Welfare Square. It’s vast and inspiring and utterly foreign to anyone familiar with social services elsewhere in the country. This starts to offer some clue as to why Utah seems to be so good at generating mobility – and why that might be hard to replicate without the Latter-day Saints.

            There’s bad news and good news.

            Bad news: The wide gulf between Utah and, say, North Carolina implies that we do, in fact, have a real problem on our hands. A child born in the bottom quintile of incomes in Charlotte has only a 4 percent chance of making it into the top quintile. A child in Salt Lake City, on the other hand, has more than a 10.8 percent chance — achingly close to the 11.7 percent found in Denmark and well on the way to the 20 percent chance you would expect in a perfectly just world.

            Good news: Because income mobility is not low everywhere, it looks like a problem with a solution. It’s not just a fact of life like earthquakes. If one place can give people a reasonable shot at moving up, then other places could presumably follow suit.

            If we knew what Salt Lake City was doing right.

            Or even who was doing it.

            “Big government” does not appear to have been key to Utah’s income mobility. From 1977 to 2005, when the kids in Chetty et al’s data were growing up, the Rockefeller Institute ranks it near the bottom in state “fiscal capacity.” The state has not invested a lot in fighting poverty, nor on schools; Utah is dead last in per-pupil education spending. This should at least give pause to those who view educational programs as the natural path to economic mobility.

            But “laissez faire” isn’t the answer either. Utah is a deep red state, but its conservatism is notably compassionate, thanks in part to the Mormon Church. Its politicians, like Sen. Mike Lee, R, led the way in rejecting Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency. And the state is engaged in a major initiative on intergenerational poverty. The bill that kicked it off passed the state’s Republican Legislature unanimously, and the lieutenant governor has been its public face.

            This follows what you might call the state’s “war on homelessness” — a war that has been largely victorious, with most of the state’s homeless resettled in permanent housing through a focus on “Housing First.” That means getting people into permanent shelter before trying to diagnose and address the problems that contributed to their homelessness, like mental illness and substance abuse.

            This approach can be cheaper than the previous regime, in which too many individuals ended up in emergency rooms or temporary shelter seeking expensive help for urgent crises. But Housing First runs into fierce emotional resistance in many quarters, because it smacks too much of rewarding people for self-destructive behaviors. Utah’s brand of conservatism overcame that, in part because the Mormon Church supported it.

            That’s the thing about the government here. It is not big, but it’s also not … bad. The state’s compassionate conservatism goes hand-in-hand with an unusually functional bureaucracy.

            During the week I spent in Utah, I was astonished at how cheerful the civil servants were. They seemed to see no point in turf wars, as long as the work gets done by someone. Their poverty services programs use a “no wrong door” model, in which anyone seeking any sort of help is given a comprehensive assessment of all their needs. No one I talked to, even off the record, said they needed bigger budgets or more staff.

            But if “better bureaucracy” is an answer to the problem of regional disparity in income mobility, it’s not a particularly hopeful one. Reforming a bureaucratic culture — staffed by people who cannot be fired without heroic effort, and who can organize to get their new boss unelected — is nigh on impossible. Replicating Utah’s civil service elsewhere might work in theory, but it won’t become reality.

            But let’s not despair. A cheerfully effective bureaucracy is not the sole force that makes the American Dream possible in Utah. In fact, my time inside that bureaucracy pointed me again and again toward a more significant factor.

            People in Utah’s government casually talk about getting the community involved in their efforts, not as a rote genuflection to a political ideal, but as an actual expectation. “Government’s not going to solve all this, and that’s why you’re in the room,” Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, R, said to attendees of a community meeting about the Intergenerational Poverty Initiative, and it wasn’t just an idle hope. Utah really does have an immense parallel structure that can be counted on to bolster anything the government does on poverty. Its front door is Welfare Square.

            Like most social service agencies, Welfare Square is in one of the less pretty parts of town, tucked just off the highway between industrial buildings and modest tract homes. The complex itself, incorporating public spaces where help is offered, and private spaces where the church manufactures many of the goods it gives away, is built of modest materials and is kept scrupulously clean. And it is vast.

            Many charity operations offer a food pantry or a thrift shop. Few of them can boast, in addition, their own bakery, dairy operation and canning facilities, all staffed by volunteers. The food pantry itself looks like a well-run grocery store, except that it runs not on money, but on “Bishop’s Orders” spelling out an individualized list of food items authorized by the bishop handling each case. This grows out of two features of Mormon life: the practice of storing large amounts of food against emergencies (as well as giving food away, the church sells it to people for their home storage caches), and an unrivaled system of highly organized community volunteer work.

            The volunteering starts in the church wards, where bishops keep a close eye on what’s going on in the congregation, and tap members as needed to help one another. If you’re out of work, they may contact small business people to find out who’s hiring. If your marriage is in trouble, they’ll find a couple who went through a hard time themselves to offer advice.

            But it does not stop with informal networks. Mormon youth are encouraged to go on missions. Many of them evangelize, of course, but others end up doing work for the church, including at Welfare Square. Every Mormon is expected to skip two meals a month, and to donate at least the value of the food they would have bought (preferably more) to help the needy. They’re also encouraged to volunteer for the church. A job center at Welfare Square harnesses the still-prodigious energies of retirees; when I was there, an immigration center, also staffed with volunteers, was just starting up. The assistance offered is not unique, but the sheer scale of it is; few other churches could muster a similar army of willing, helpful people, or deploy them so efficiently.

            The Mormon Church has a particular philosophy of help. Don Johnson, division director for the Welfare Department of the Church, spoke of the Pharisees quizzing Jesus in the gospels: “They asked the savior what is the greatest commandment — love God, and love your neighbor.” For the Mormon Church, that means making sure that no one goes hungry.

            But the church is quite clear that the help is a temporary waypoint on the road to self-sufficiency, not a way of life. People are asked to work in exchange for the help they get, and, as the bishop said, “We make a list of what will sustain human life, not lifestyle.” I sampled various of the food items, and all were perfectly tasty, but nothing was what you would call fancy. It’s a utilitarian stopgap, not a substitute for an income, and not meant to be; the help comes with a healthy push to get yourself back on your feet as quickly as possible. The two phrases I heard over and over were “individual” and “self-reliant.”

            “It’s a failure on the part of many,” he said, “if this is going on for six months or a year and their condition hasn’t changed.”

            This combination of financial help and the occasional verbal kick in the pants is something close to what the ideal of government help used to be. Social workers used to make individual judgments about what sort of help their clients needed or deserved. But such judgments always have an inherently subjective and arbitrary quality, which courts began to frown on in the middle of the 20th century, in part because they offered considerable discretion for racial discrimination.

            Turning government welfare into an automatic entitlement based on simple rules undoubtedly made it fairer, and kept people from slipping through the cracks. But making it harder to remove benefits from people who stopped trying also made it easier for people to make understandable short-term decisions which turned into long-term dependence, leaving a significant number of people disconnected from work and mired in multi-generational poverty.

            That’s what the Mormon approach to support avoids. It gets people back on their feet and connects them with their communities. At its best, it provides a path from the bottom quintile to the top.

            Is Mormonism really essential to this approach? Perhaps other communities could incorporate lessons from the church’s good works.

            When Chetty et al released their study of levels of income mobility in various parts of America, their most interesting finding was not about “the 1 percent.” In fact, the inequality that best predicted low mobility was within the 99 percent — the distance between a community’s upper middle class and its poorest citizens.

            This makes some sense. Realistically, few strive to join the 1 percent. But children from any background should be able to look around their communities and see models for more ordinary kinds of success: doctors, lawyers, engineers. If those denizens of the upper middle class are earning a lot more than the poorest people in the area, the rungs of the ladder are just too far apart, and few will be able to climb.

            Income is hardly the only thing holding people down. Children who start life in affluence also have access to social networks that instill values — like emphasizing going to school and not having children until you can support them — and provide connections to the professional world.

            David Sims, a Brigham Young economist who has done work on income mobility, suggests that the secret to Utah’s especially good mobility is not that it’s especially good at building effective public institutions. What it’s especially good at is a sort of middle classness that’s so broad it’s almost infectious.

            Sims has looked at what happens to kids from schools in pairs of counties located along state borders, which provides something close to a natural experiment. Adjacent counties can be assumed to have broad overlap in the kind of people and businesses that locate there but will, because of their different state governments, have different levels of school funding and institutional practices. Sims found this made “almost no difference.”

            So he asked, in his words, “What are schools doing?” Answer: exposing students to social networks that aren’t like theirs.

            That happens organically in an area where all the schools are pretty much the same, with a strong mixing of the top and the bottom classes. That mixing can even be intentional and can happen outside of school; another economics professor at Brigham Young told me that his church ward had recently deliberately expanded its boundaries to include a nearby trailer park.

            The promise of this approach to mobility is actually somewhat disheartening to advocates. A conversation about the 1 percent versus the 99 percent points toward some solutions the government is good at — like taxing a tiny number of rich people and redistributing the money to those further down the income scale. But if the more promising solution to income mobility is to create a viable path from poverty to the upper middle class, then political support will tend to disappear. The class of liberal professionals who talk about reducing income inequality are not threatened by talk of taxing the 1 percent. But they would lose out from a broad equalization of incomes between the top 25 percent and the bottom 25 percent.

            How did Utah manage, then? Well, one viable theory is “it’s Mormon.” Churches form a sort of leveling community. No matter what we do outside, we’re all equal before God.

            There’s a more troubling theory: that at least some of Utah’s success lies in its lack of racial diversity. Which is itself no accident.

            One astonishing feature of Utah is how little people talk about race. At that community meeting on the Intergenerational Poverty Initiative, all the usual people were there: civil servants and teachers, politicians, the folks who do charity work in the community, and the inevitable scattering of retirees who now have time to take an interest in politics. My notes on the meeting do not contain the word “race,” and as far as I can recall, no one mentioned it. No proposal was immediately decried as racist. Truly surreal to a Washingtonian and a recovering New Yorker. What’s happening here?

            The state population is now about 13 percent Hispanic, but only 1 percent black. Part of the explanation is probably the Mormon Church’s century of institutional racism.

            During the era of founder Joseph Smith, the church actually seems to have been relatively egalitarian for its time. But his successor, Brigham Young, who led the Latter-day Saints to Utah, excluded black followers from the priesthood (which is generally open to every Mormon man), keeping them out of the center of ecclesiastical life. The doctrine did not change until 1978, and the church’s racist past still lingers.

            Unsurprisingly, the Mormons did not attract many black converts during the century that the ban was in place. Given that Utah is primarily peopled by Mormons, its population skews white. (The church is now winning souls in Africa, but its home city remains remarkably white.)

            This near-absence of racial diversity means that racism is largely left out of Utah’s conversations about economic inequality. That leads to some conversations around inequality that would be unbearably fraught elsewhere. When the poor people are, by and large, the same race as the richer ones, people find it easier to talk about them the way they might talk about, well, family members — as folks who may have made some mistakes and started with some disadvantages, but also as folks who could be self-sufficient after a little help from an uncle or a sister. It’s a very different conversation from “victim”/”oppressor” and “us”/”them”: a conversation that recognizes that poor people often make choices that keep them in poverty, but also that the constraints of poverty, including the social environment of poor neighborhoods, make it very difficult to make another choice.

            It’s not clear that we can have those same sorts of conversations in the places that are still struggling more openly and frequently with the legacy of slavery, or the inevitable clashes that come from throwing a lot of different cultures together in a small space. The many benefits of diversity have been so frequently and thoroughly extolled that I need not rehearse the refrain here. But there has been a growing disquiet in recent years with diversity’s costs. About 10 years ago, public policy professor Robert Putnam began quietly pointing out that along with enhancing positive qualities like creativity, diversity also created conflict and reduced the level of social trust.

            “In more diverse settings,” suggests Putnam, “Americans distrust not merely people who do not look like them, but even people who do.”

            Utah’s willingness to help, and its ability to help, may arise from its homogeneity — a trait that won’t be exported to the diverse nation at large.

            Utah is an aberration in many other ways. Look at alcohol and marriage.

            The Mormon Church forbids drinking, and alcohol sales are far lower here than in other states. The incidence of problems associated with alcohol — like poverty, unemployment and crime — is also lower than in most other states.

            On the other hand, the Mormon Church strongly encourages marriage, and the state is No. 1 in both married adults and in the percentage of children being raised by married parents.

            Chetty et al suggest that having two married parents is a bedrock foundation of economic mobility — one that is rapidly eroding in modern America.

            Economists Isabel Sawhill and Ron Haskins famously estimated that we could reduce poverty by 71 percent if the poor did just four things: finished high school, worked full time, got married and had no more than two children — and the number of children was the least important factor in that calculation.

            By encouraging members to marry, the Mormon Church is encouraging them to reduce their own likelihood of ending up poor. But it may also be creating spillover effects even for non-Mormons, because Chetty et al didn’t just find that married parents helped their own children to rise; they also influenced the lives of the children around them.

            “Parents’ marital status does not matter purely through its effects at the individual level,” they write. “Children of married parents also have higher rates of upward mobility in communities with fewer single parents. Interestingly, we find no correlation between racial shares and upward mobility once we control for the fraction of single parents in an area.”

            In other words, while areas with high numbers of racial minorities did, in general, have lower levels of mobility (for whites as well as blacks), once they controlled for the family structure of the community, that effect disappeared. Marriage seems to have more of a correlation with mobility than race does. Homogeneous Utah is the real-world laboratory that bears out this theory, which in more diverse communities can be obscured by racism and racial activism.

            The value of married parents — even if they aren’t your parents — may come from the peer effects that David Sims talked about. Neighborhoods model adulthood for kids. If you live in a neighborhood full of single mothers who had a hard time finishing school, that’s probably the future you’ll expect for yourself and your own kids. If you live in a neighborhood full of thriving two-parent families, that’s probably the future you’ll envision, even if your own father disappeared when you were 2. Marriage matters at the individual level, but it also matters at the community level, because the community can strongly shape individual behavior.

            And this shaping is a two-way street, as George Orwell once pointed out about employment in Britain’s depressed industrial north. When most people are working, the community can help encourage those who are having trouble staying in work by lauding the working man and stigmatizing those who don’t. But when large percentages of the population are out of work, that norm collapses, because people are now being asked to stigmatize large numbers of their family and friends. The result is a vicious circle where work is not only harder to get, but harder to get people to do.

            Marriage seems to be in just such a state of semi-collapse among large swathes of the population. The pattern of family formation that is becoming increasingly standard among the majority of the population that doesn’t have a college degree consists of weakly attached fathers, often supporting multiple children with multiple mothers, leaving their attention and resources divided among households.

            It’s not that it’s impossible to have stable unions without a marriage certificate — it’s common in Scandinavia, for example, and same-sex parents formed households before they could legally marry — but that’s mostly not how it has worked out in the U.S., where the college educated marry late and form what sociologist Kathryn Edin calls “super-relationships.” These are partnerships of equals with very high degrees of satisfaction and economic success. Meanwhile people without a degree often don’t marry until after they’ve had kids, if they marry at all, and frequently struggle to raise their children in a tangle of shifting cross-household relationships.

            “When I look at the data, I cannot find cohabiting couples that last very long,” says Joe Price, an economist at Brigham Young who studies marriage and family.

            Utah has not entirely escaped the change, but it is relatively insulated; the state leads the nation for marriage and for children with married parents. How do we get Utah’s results without marriage?

            “Why don’t we use what we have?” Price asked. “You’ve got this institution that has worked for thousands of years.” And yet, he said, “there’s a reluctance to use the word ‘marriage’ in public policy.”

            People who don’t see why you need a marriage certificate to make a stable home for a child may be skewed by their own social position, Price said: “We’re always looking at the wrong group — the high-income group.” He added: “The people who are doing the research are the people who don’t need marriage.”

            Utah’s unique religious history not only democratized the relationships between the affluent and the struggling; it also democratized marriage, at a time when elsewhere in the U.S., marriage seems to be morphing into an elite institution. Price thinks that gives the state a huge boost in launching kids into the middle class, and Chetty et al’s data back that up.

            This does raise some questions about the viability of Utah’s “compassionate conservative” model outside the state. The vast welfare infrastructure from the Mormon Church naturally makes it easier to have smaller government. Perhaps that could be replicated by other communities. But the values of the Mormon Church may create a public that simply needs less help. That’s harder for another community to imitate. I’m not sure this key ingredient is available in a secular version; I think religion might only come in religion flavor.

            How the heck is some state government supposed to get people to marry, and stay married?

            Utah’s incredible levels of integration, of community solidarity and support, of trust in government and in each other, enable it to build something unique in America, something a bit like Sweden might be, if it were run by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Where the best ideas of conservatives and liberals came together in one delicious package: business friendly, opportunity friendly, but also highly committed to caring for the needy and helping them get back on their feet. (And before you start muttering words like “theocracy,” let me point out that Salt Lake City also has a thriving LGBT community, and alone in the middle of the post-Obergefell culture wars, managed to bring that community together with religious leaders to hammer out a compromise that protected LGBT rights while also leaving some space for religious liberty.)

            No place is perfect. But with mobility seemingly stalled elsewhere, and our politics quickly becoming as bitter as a double Campari with no ice, I really, really wanted to find pieces of Utah’s model that could somehow be exported.

            Price gave me some hope. The Mormon Church, he says, has created “scripts” for life, and you don’t need religious faith for those; you just need cultural agreement that they’re important. He said: “Imagine the American Medical Association said that if the mother is married when she’s pregnant, the child is likely to do better.” We have lots of secular authorities who could be encouraging marriage, and volunteering, and higher levels of community involvement of all kinds. Looking at the remarkable speed with which norms about gay marriage changed, thanks in part to an aggressive push on the topic from Hollywood icons, I have to believe that our norms about everyone else’s marriages could change too, if those same elites were courageous enough to recognize the evidence, and take a stand.

            And as I saw myself, Mormonism also seems to have a script for a different kind of politics, one that might, just possibly, help us do some of the other things. Enough to make a difference.

            President George W. Bush talked a lot about compassionate conservatism 15 years ago, but Utah has made it a reality. Utahans seem strongly committed to charitable works, by government, alongside government or outside government. Whatever tools used are infused with an ethic of self-reliance that helps prevent dependency. And yet, when there’s a conflict between that ethic and mercy, Utah institutions err on the side of mercy.

            America could use a politics more like that. And the values that make it work are not unique to Mormonism; nothing that they say is strikingly different from anything the religious right professes. Nor does Christianity have a monopoly on helping others and building strong communities; those are central tenets of a lot of religions, and are secular priorities.

            We are not going to be a majority Mormon nation; we are not going to have Utah’s cultural homogeneity. But we could have more politicians like Lt. Gov. Cox, and even more honest and sympathetic conversations about poverty. We could offer more, and better, help to people who need it. Why not look for more promising scripts than the ones played out across the U.S. today? With inspiration from Utah, perhaps the U.S. could inch toward Utah-level mobility — and toward the American Dream.”

            So in the comments that praised Utah that I read it was precisely and specifically for treating homelessness and for income mobility out of poverty that Utah was cited. Until @Atlas’ post I was unaware of Sailer’s appalling additional remarks. 
            Maybe it’s a lie that Utah does better, at least there’s still Massachusetts as a U.S. State that seems to do better than others, it would’ve been nice if there was an at least two models to follow for places disinclined for whatever reason to follow one.

            I just want some ways besides high homelessness California and high workplace deaths Texas (for some reason every time I review the latest industrial deaths examples it’s something in Texas more than anyplace else in the U.S.A., we may not have much else anymore, but at least there’s still Cal-OSHA to be proud of).

            Please just tell of a model to lessen intergenerational poverty and homelessness, is that too much to ask?

            So far for intergenerational poverty the only thing that looks promising is moving poor children under six years old and their mothers to better places, unfortunately the effect is pretty marginal and it doesn’t seem to work with older children. 

            As far homelessness, look I’ve seen the statistics, I know that in the rest of the U.S.A. rates are going down, homelessness is largely a west coast problem, so what do we do? 

            Please don’t tell me “Just build more housing”, sewage treatment plants around here are already past capacity, there’s been more new apartments added in the past few years than were added in the previous past few decades and it’s not helping, the rates of homelessness continues to climb, for every ten new apartments built it looks like there’s another tent on the sidewalk, and don’t tell me “Well you live in an unique area”, ’cause not unique enough! It ain’t just Oakland and San Francisco: Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, all up and down the coast, not just in California it’s the same damn story!

            Tell of a model out of this.

            Please.

          • Chalid says:

            On homelessness, you live in a uniquely bad city for it. The answer to homelessness is not to figure out what Utah is doing right and emulate it, it’s to figure out what San Francisco is doing wrong and avoid doing that.

            On inequality, I’d look at this map again. You’ve got a big swath of high-mobility states. Whatever is leading to high mobility is likely something that they all have in common (to be clear, I don’t know what the common factor is). You can rule out things that are idiosyncratic to any one state. The Mormon Church is idiosyncratic to Utah, so it’ s probably not the explanation. (And similarly we can more-or-less rule out everything else Megan McArdle talks about.)

            Minnesota is much more likely to be a state we can learn some generalizable lessons from, let’s send some reporters there.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            … “Dont be a former confederate state”?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Thomas Jorgensen

            I think it’s hard to retroactively not be full of Scots-Irish and blacks, which is 99% of the problem the Confederate states have.

          • Chalid says:

            Dont be a former confederate state

            ok, so what is the upper Midwest doing differently than Indiana or New Hampshire or Idaho or…

            Though yeah, the old Confederacy definitely stands out on that map too.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Remember that a high level of upward mobility also means a high level of downward mobility. By definition, they need to be equal. It’s a zero sum game. Maybe it’s still good if you think it is also good for lots of the rich to fall to the bottom, but please say that if true.

          • Plumber says:

            @Mark V Anderson,
            Sure.
            “I’m poor but at least my kids will be rich!”, and “Well my kids will be poor, but at least my grandkids will be rich!” could work well.

            Why not?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Mark V Anderson
            “I’m rich and my kids will move out of state (without downward mobility) to spread the good word elsewhere, while my poorer neighbors kids (who are otherwise great) will keep things going well here where I live.”

            Or perhaps a rising tide floats all boats: https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2018/12/04/utah-adds-k-new-residents/

            “And everyone has a black sheep or three in their large family (only one kid can take over as CEO of the family business). But the other kid is doing alright indeed.”

          • brad says:

            Maybe it’s still good if you think it is also good for lots of the rich to fall to the bottom, but please say that if true.

            Given that innate talent reverts to the mean and drive is anti-correlated with parental drive, I do think it is a good thing for lots of rich to fall down. Outcomes ought to be primarily driven by one’s own productivity and not that of remote ancestors.

          • quanta413 says:

            Given that innate talent reverts to the mean and drive is anti-correlated with parental drive, I do think it is a good thing for lots of rich to fall down. Outcomes ought to be primarily driven by one’s own productivity and not that of remote ancestors.

            I agree. It would be a bad sign if we didn’t see reversion to the mean, unless mating and life history patterns were very different. Unless you are aliens running a breeding program for homo economicus, there’s not much reason to consider estimates of even parental productivity as very relevant.

          • brad says:

            I don’t have a problem with productive parents being able to provide decent to great consumption potential for their children even if those children aren’t very productive. I think a society where that wasn’t possible would remove too much of the incentive to earn. I don’t buy that great-grandchildren meaningfully impact incentives at the margin.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Okay, reversion to the mean is a reason for upward and downward mobility. But how much? It has been my observation that smart people almost always have smart kids. So it doesn’t revert that much. It is only obvious when you look at the kids of a genius; most of these kids aren’t geniuses.

            Does anyone know how genetic reversion to the mean works mathematically? Assume the US was 100% meritocratic, and assume that 100% of this merit came from genes, whether from IQ or something else. What would be the resulting downward mobility from the top 20% of income?

            I ask this because the discussion above seemed to assume that upward mobility (and thus downward mobility) was always a good thing, and the more the better. I mostly do agree that it is good that there is no ceiling for poor to rise up, but I also think that a meritocracy is generally a good thing. This might result in contradictions if reversion to the mean isn’t very strong, which I think is the case.

          • quanta413 says:

            @brad
            I agree. If parents want to give their children money that’s ok. Although I don’t know if it should be in any way tax privileged over other forms of giving. If great-grandparents want to give their great-grand children money that’s fine. Or if someone wants to give money to their godson. Or their favorite pupil. Or their mistress. Although maybe stuff given to a mistress should be considered a market transaction. Depending.

            What I dislike is when the parent-child route of wealth transmission becomes a right of the receiver rather than the giver like any normal gifts. There are countries (I think German inheritance law came up here once) where children have inheritance rights to absolutely absurd cuts of their parents wealth (1/2 of it IIRC). Screw that.

            @Mark V Anderson

            Does anyone know how genetic reversion to the mean works mathematically? Assume the US was 100% meritocratic, and assume that 100% of this merit came from genes, whether from IQ or something else. What would be the resulting downward mobility from the top 20% of income?

            If you can manage to assign income to some sort of normalized scale, then a first cut attempt is that you would multiply the parents “income factor” minus the average “income factor” of the relevant population the parents come from by the heritability to calculate the average amount of regression to the mean.

            IIRC income is nowhere near normally distributed though, so this is a probably a very sketchy way of thinking about it.

            Scanning random search results, income is only something like 20-40% heritable so most of the difference between parents and the average “shouldn’t” show up in the difference between children and the average.

            I’d bet wealth is a lot more than 20-40% heritable which should tell us something about how much economic mobility is prevented by inheritance of literal wealth (and not just genes that tend to make someone either want more money or be better at acquiring it).

            Assortative mating also makes this complicated. It affects both the genetic and nongenetic factors of of income and wealth inheritance.

            EDIT: Here’s an old gnxp post referencing a Gintis and Bowles paper on some of the other weirdness about income heritability. It isn’t IQ driving income heritability.

            EDIT: “ranking” changed to “scale”. “ranking” is wrong word.

          • brad says:

            If the great-grandparent is still alive, sure. But much of the history of the common law of wills and trusts was a struggle between on the one hand, competent ancestors trying from beyond the grave to insure that even if their great-grandchild was totally incompetent their great-great-grandchild would still be rich and the creditors of those incompetent great-grandchildren trying to break those arrangements. Up until very recent times the creditor side was dominating. I think that’s correct and the way a society should work.

        • albatross11 says:

          Is it low when accounting for the racial mix, though? Blacks have about 8x the rate of committing homicides as whites, and Utah has few blacks, so you could easily see a low per-capita murder rate that’s just based on the state’s racial mix. Something similar applies to school performance, welfare, etc.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        GDP per capita is lower when you have families with lots of children, and Utah has 2.32 children per household Utah measures in the top 15 in median household income, and fares better when you consider Utah has a better cost of living than most of its competitors in that category. Couple that with Utah’s very low poverty rates and very low unemployment rates, and Utah is a clear top 10 state for Americans that want to raise families.

        Utah also has one of the lowest homicide rates in the country, not substantially higher than Canada.

        So, I’d say Utah is probably top 10 for US families of normal means trying to raise children, perhaps even top 5, and it does this without the colossal taxes imposed by other states.

        That being said, when I was creating my list of states for backup options when IL destroys itself, Utah was 2nd-to-last among states with balanced pensions (only faring slightly better than Arksansas). But I’m not an average American, this is a 10% household by income. An average household would probably find Utah more attractive.

      • Atlas says:

        A while ago, after reading one of these things praising Utah, I went and looked up various obvious metrics of societal success and found Utah to be not really exceptional on any of them. Murder rate is lowish but not that low, GDP per capita is lower than the US average, divorce rate on the high side, etc etc.

        It makes me think that people who like Utah’s social model for ideological reasons are trying to exaggerate its success.

        Indeed. It’s sort of a glass half empty, glass half full thing: Someone else (like Plumber) might take that description as a pretty good one, all things considered. Steve Sailer has said something along the lines of “Utah hits a lot of singles and doubles but not a lot of home runs.” (If I’ve mischaracterized the sports analogy, it’s my fault not Steve’s.)

      • Chalid says:

        To be clear, I wasn’t intending to argue that Utah isn’t a nice enough place, but rather that it’s not such an *exceptionally* nice place such that we should be devoting lots of time to trying to understand it. And in this thread we see defenses like “homicide rates are very low” (which means #9 in the country) or that median household income is #15 in the country, which is fine as it goes but again nothing exceptional.

        Basically a quick look at statistics will show that states like say Minnesota perform at least as well or better than Utah on a wide variety of measures, and any lessons from Minnesota are a lot more likely to generalize to the rest of the United States than lessons from Utah. But we’re talking about Utah insteaad of Minnesota because it fits a narrative that some people want to push.

        • Plumber says:

          @Chalid,
          Please tell me more about this “Minnesota”.

          (I’m quite serious, usually I see California vs.Texas, and Massachusetts vs. Mississippi rhetorical and statistical comparisons in the “who’s party is better” arguments, with Utah next most brought up as a positive example, Kansas and Wisconsin sometimes brought up as negative examples).

          • Atlas says:

            (Daniel Patrick) Moynihan’s Law of the Canadian Border:

            In his State of the Union Message, the President reaffirmed his commitment to making our country “the world leader in education,” adding that to do so, “We must revolutionize America’s schools.”

            He didn’t say how. But he asked for help. And help is at hand!

            I have discovered the formula. …

            I am a little old for that sort of thing, but still it happened. I was allotted two minutes in a gathering of Democrats last week to explain, yet again, that there is simply no significant connection between school expenditure and pupil achievement.

            … Uh huh, nodded the audience. Same old stuff. Then it came to me. “Fellow countrymen!” I exclaimed. “If you would improve your state’s math scores, move your state closer to the Canadian border!”

            Here’s a post from Steve Sailer on Minnesota as Nordic social welfare utopia. And, er, pursuant with your comment below, I guess I should warn readers that Steve has a very controversial perspective that isn’t openly expressed in many mainstream publications.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Senators were shitposting in the New York Times op-ed pages in 1992? That’s AMAZING! And here I was only reading the Washington Post, looks like I missed out.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I recently listened to a podcast that discussed the suprisingly high rate of opiate addiction in Utah. I don’t recall whether it was high in relative terms, or just higher than they’d have expected from an area where the majority religion finds even caffeine unacceptable, never mind other mind altering substances.

      According to this podcast, part of the problem was that the LDS church has very high standards, which many people don’t feel they are really living up to, and these people are more likely to be vulnerable to addiction.

      If this hypothesis is correct – and it seemed more like a “just so story” than a scientifically tested hypothesis, I’d expect the same people to also have an elevated risk of suicide.

      • Plumber says:

        @DinoNerd >

        “the suprisingly high rate of opiate addiction in Utah…”

        Yeah, Utah is less black than average and:

        “…This epidemic started in white suburban and rural areas where people are overdosing mostly with prescription medicine like Percocet and OxyContin. Chapman says that African-American patients have historically been less likely to be prescribed pain narcotics…”

        African-American were initially spared, but unfortunately they’re catching up.

        And on that depressing note, it looks like the decrease in American life expectancy in recent years that was driven by earlier deaths among working class whites is spreading to other Americans.

      • Atlas says:

        According to this podcast, part of the problem was that the LDS church has very high standards, which many people don’t feel they are really living up to, and these people are more likely to be vulnerable to addiction.

        If this hypothesis is correct – and it seemed more like a “just so story” than a scientifically tested hypothesis, I’d expect the same people to also have an elevated risk of suicide.

        Interesting. That definitely sounds like a just-so story/instance of the narrative fallacy to me; I would guess that states with similar racial demographics and geography but without much LDS presence have similar rates of opiate abuse.

        However, the failure of Utah’s social model to prevent this, even if it likely isn’t particularly responsible for it, does seem like another possible piece of evidence against the strong version of social conservatism.

    • Plumber says:

      @Atlas,
      A little bit sorry to “virtue signal” and be a “snowflake” but I’ve read the McArdle piece Sailer highlighted before, and while he did contribute some cogent thoughts I found some of his offhand comments appalling, I wish you had quoted the good stuff and edited out just a couple of his lines.

      I feel a little ridiculous for this at my age, but I guess that I’m asking for a “trigger warning” for a link like that (which reminds me that I should do one for my next post).

      • Atlas says:

        Fair enough. I personally found Sailer’s remarks quite insightful and funny, but I definitely remember being shocked and appalled the first time I saw his comments/writing. Here’s an insightful but hopefully non-offensive passage for any readers who might feel similarly:

        The mainstream Mormon organization in Utah today seem more like a mutual self-help society, sort of a private enterprise Sweden. If you agree to play by their rules, follow their cultural norms, and pay a lot of taxes, excuse me, donations, they’ll round down some of the sharp, competitive corners of modern life for you. The intense and expensive efforts modern Americans make to “insulate, insulate, insulate” their families (as Sherman McCoy’s best friend tells him people who want to raise children in Manhattan must do) are sort of taken care of for you by the Mormon church.

        Of course, that’s why Mormons are so Republican — they’ve built themselves a private welfare state, without most of the moral hazard that goes with government welfare states.

        For example, consider the admissions process to college, which is pretty maniacal for a lot of families these days. Yet, the statistics on Brigham Young University don’t look much at all like other universities.

        These days, colleges are extremely stratified by SAT score, but BYU isn’t like that. The last time I checked (about five years ago), it’s 25th and 75th percentiles of SAT scores were farther apart than just about any other prominent college in the country, meaning that a wide range of kids go there: both the smart Mormon kids and the average Mormon kids.

  9. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Some people make reality look like an RPG campaign.

    Juan Garrido was a Spanish conquistador born in the Kingdom of Kongo, hitching a ride to Portugal with Portuguese explorers, getting baptized (as “John Handsome”), walking east to Seville, finding a recruiting station for conquistadors, participating in the 1508 invasions of Cuba and Puerto Rico, and then the 1519 invasion of Mexico. “And also … I was the first to have the inspiration to sow wheat here in New Spain.”

    • quanta413 says:

      I’d just like to say that I appreciate this link. Makes me want to move to another culture, get myself a sweet name, and aid in the conquest of an empire.

      Maybe I should break out some RPG books again… it’s been awhile.

  10. Snickering Citadel says:

    Is the following statement true?: In every nation where Christianity is the biggest religion, Christians are on average more economically right-wing than not religious people.

    If no, which nations is it not true for?

    • BlazingGuy says:

      I would expect that to mostly not be true in South America: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberation_theology

    • Statismagician says:

      What do you mean by ‘economically right-wing,’ and do you just want to know about the present, or are historical cases acceptable?

      • Snickering Citadel says:

        By economically right-wing I mean people who want less taxes and less tax-funded health care, education and stuff like that. I was thinking about the present, but if you have historical cases that’s OK.

    • AlexOfUrals says:

      I can’t seem to find any statistics to support it, but that seems very much not the case in Russia, where Orthodox Christians is by far the largest denomination. Christians on average support the current regime more and consequently support strong involvement of government in [everything else including] economics and healthcare. Moreover, however ridiculous it sounds, the Communist Party of Russian Federation (yes, descendant of that Communist Party) more and more tries to appeal to Christians.

      • Wency says:

        Christians supporting the regime would reinforce my belief that Christians in (formerly) Christian lands tend to be conservative by disposition, but “economically right-wing” is a red herring that can easily mean opposite things in different times and places.

    • Wency says:

      In the U.S., this is probably often untrue at a local level but surely true for the country in aggregate. I don’t really know what Christians are like in Europe or the rest of the Anglosphere.

      In de-Christianizing and formerly Christian lands, Christianity appeals more to people of conservative dispositions. But among people of conservative dispositions, I’d expect it tends to have a moderating effect.

    • eigenmoon says:

      AFAIK European right-wing often means more taxes and Poland and Hungary are ruled by right-wing parties that spend more than the left-wing. The difference is that the left-wing splurges on the unemployed and the right-wing splurges on families and children.

    • Parts of Eastern Europe, probably, where right-wing parties aren’t particularly wedded to capitalism.

      Italy comes the closest, where people who attend church weekly were more likely to vote for the Left or far-Left than those attending monthly or occasionally, but less than those who never attend. Still, those who don’t attend church were disproportionately not likely to vote for the center-right parties:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Italian_general_election#Electorate_demographics

    • Plumber says:

      @Snickering Citadel says:

      “Is the following statement true?: In every nation where Christianity is the biggest religion, Christians are on average more economically right-wing than not religious people.

      If no, which nations is it not true for?”

      On average more frequent church-going among white Americans correlates with voting Republican (the more economically right-wing of the two major parties), but among black Americans frequent church-going correlates with voting Democratic Party (in both cases church attendance frequency correlates with voting at all as well).

      FWIW they’re using the same Bible.

  11. Dacyn says:

    I got email notification this morning of “Open Thread 147.25” from @a reader. The next open thread should be 142.5, and the 147.25 page does not allow comments. Here’s hoping the next open thread will still be posted as planned.

    • Dacyn says:

      For the record, I got the same thing this morning with “Open Thread 152.75”. However, the next thread appears to be posted as normal, so I guess this is only a (minor) problem for people who get an email feed. (ETA: Unless this somehow preempts 147.25 and 152.75 from showing up when they are supposed to.)

    • a reader says:

      I am sorry – these days I create the OTs for 2020 and I made a mistake 🙁

      • Dacyn says:

        Fair enough. I was more worried that something had gone horribly wrong than I was annoyed at random stuff in my email 🙂

  12. Urstoff says:

    Related to some other threads:

    Is there an evidentiary double standard here and in the “rationalist” sphere (not to mention the “intellectual” wing of the alt-right, such as it is) wrt large-scale social theories? It seems that studies on psychology, educational interventions, social psych, etc. rightly get scrutinized for the ability to infer causality, what measures are adequate, and so forth, but when it comes to culture war-ish questions like “why civilizations fall”, the effect of various social mores, and questions of that nature, confidence in the truth of these theories far outstrips any possible evidence. Given that it’s extremely difficult to construct psychological models that survive experimentation, shouldn’t we be extremely skeptical of any theories about culture/civilization, with the default belief being “we really don’t know”? Or is it not the case that making causal claims on the level of cultures is at least as difficult and requires as much evidence as making causal claims on the level of individual psychology?

    I know it’s fun to speculate about stuff like this, but it seems that speculation often becomes accepted wisdom without the general critique that other areas of inquiry undergo.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      I have not noticed rationalists having this double standard.
      If I made a top-level post here about, say, Oswald Spengler, I would expect skeptical analysis.

    • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

      Yes.

      Ozzy once posted a critic of exactly this phenomenon in the rationalist community, calling it amateur sociology, and they (and you) are absolutely right. If I recall, Scott’s and other’s reply was along the lines of: yeah, sociology is hard, but it’s human to think about this stuff, so what can you do?

      https://thingofthings.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/amateur-sociology-considered-harmful/

      • Urstoff says:

        Ah, thanks for the link. This articulates it much, much better.

      • zardoz says:

        Ozzy’s own essay starts with a frank statement that “one of the things a good sociology education gives you is a healthy disrespect for sociology,” followed by some examples of contradictory books that people wrote, all of which are considered respectable sociology. So, is there any evidence that “professional sociology” gets it right any more than “amateur sociology”?

        You can say that accepting contradictory points of view makes you open minded, but at some point your disciple starts to look like alchemy, or worse. At least the alchemists didn’t p-hack their results.

        • DeWitt says:

          “one of the things a good sociology education gives you is a healthy disrespect for sociology,”

          This sentence is true for more academic disciplines than it’s fale, in my entirely personal and biased experience.

          • quanta413 says:

            Interesting, this has not usually been my reaction. My respect for physics did not drop in studying it even through graduate school. I think it was flat or increased instead. On the other hand, my respect for physicists dropped from being one of them, working with them, and socializing with them to normal levels of respect (although I’m more fond of physicists on average than other people) from something less reasonable.

            And my respect for mathematical biology increased a lot from studying it. Before I studied it, I thought it wasn’t concrete enough. After studying it for years, it became my favorite subject.

            Similarly for history, the more I study it the more I respect it although I have studied much less history than physics.

            Philosophy on the other hand, my overall respect did drop for from reading. Not a lot, but some. Although there is a very wide range there. Which may be what philosophy has in common with sociology. The quality and direction of even the famous work is extremely uneven.

          • albatross11 says:

            quanta:

            That’s pretty close to my experience, too. Years of studying cryptography and computer science have left me knowing there are weak spots and dumb trendy bits, but also that there’s a lot of high-quality clever work there. Studying immunology and virology and evolutionary biology has impressed me a lot with the depth of knowledge there, while also leaving me with an impression of a field where everything is really complicated and even the most useful and powerful models are massive oversimplifications of reality. I studied economics in school and try to read some stuff in it now and then, and my faith in macroeconomic theories fell a great deal as I got into it, whereas a lot of microeconomics seems a lot more solid. (But see this.)

            I’ve also had an amateur interest in social psychology and experimental psychology for many years, but my confidence and respect for its claimed results has taken a pretty huge hit over the last few years….

    • albatross11 says:

      I think it’s important to distinguish overt speculation (“maybe this is the result of sexual selection”) from making a claim that you publish in an academic paper and that gets taught to undergrads from then on.

      There are also some alt-right/evo-psych/human b-odiversity related theories that have gotten a lot of critical scrutiny, including from the other members of their communities. For example, there’s a theory of ethnic genetic interests that sort-of gives an explanation for why racism should be selected for, but I’ve seen various people criticize it because neither the math nor the history seem to work out. (Though maybe this is a place where group selection theories can come into their own….) Specifically, I’ve seen Greg Cochran and Razib Khan both poke this idea full of holes. Similarly, plenty of people have poked holes in the gay uncles theory of the evolution of homosexuality.

    • Viliam says:

      it seems that speculation often becomes accepted wisdom without the general critique that other areas of inquiry undergo.

      Naming the specific speculations, along with links to SSC or LW, could improve this debate. There may be different levels of support, and different reasons for the support, for different speculations.

      On SSC, Scott reviewed a few weird books. But those reviews were written from a perspective of a curious, open-minded, but also skeptical reader. They contained both arguments supporting and opposing the hypothesis, along with occassional complaints about insufficient data or methodologically flawed research. (“Evidence X seems to support the hypothesis, but evidence Y seems to contradict it; and there is also Z which is a result of a N=7 study so I am going to ignore it for now.”) Reading this kind of reviews seems to me interesting, and not significantly harmful.

      If you disagree with this description, and believe that Scott came too close to a true-believer position on some topic, please name the topic, so that we can look at the evidence.

      Debating weird hypotheses is a thing that many smart people enjoy. Among the more rational ones, there is this concept of “strong opinions, weakly held”. One can also enjoy debating clearly made-up theories, whether they are elvish languages of Middle Earth, technology of Star Trek, or kabbalistic (non-)coincidences in Unsong.

      If you believe that some “accepted wisdom” is wrong, seems to me that the right approach is to point it out, and ideally also provide counter-examples or alternative explanations. In theory, rationalist places should be the ones where this strategy has the greatest chance to succeed, for both good and bad reasons (good = people are more likely to actually listen to your argument; bad = people will join you because disagreeing with local consensus is more fun than agreeing with it).

      • Thegnskald says:

        bad = people will join you because disagreeing with local consensus is more fun than agreeing with it

        I think this has more to do with the thing I brought up below.

        Fleshing out the idea a little bit more, if person X convinces people of an idea, this may have more to do with X than with the idea (at least the idea as communicated). When the convinced people start arguing for the idea, they don’t do as good a job, either because the idea as communicated doesn’t contain all the information X used to generate it, and thus they cannot defend it as well as X, or because X was uniquely good at arguing for the idea.

      • AlesZiegler says:

        I for one find a claim that “Western individualism” was born as a result of Church ban on cousin marriages pretty outlandish. In fairness, Scott only linked to a paper presenting the theory without endorsing it.

    • broblawsky says:

      Yes, and I’ve noticed this gets particularly bad when people talk about evolutionary psychology.

    • I’m torn on this. On the one hand, it’s certainly true that people here, like everyone else, accept certain hypothesis with little scrutiny. But if you made everyone have a higher standard, then we couldn’t really have any kind of discussion, until everyone decided to catch up on the entirety of the possible literature.

  13. jermo sapiens says:

    This article was recently tweeted by Robin Hanson. I’m not quite certain of Hanson’s standing in the rationalist community but he’s been mentioned here by Scott in some posts and therefore I assume he’s a figure of some prominence. The conclusions fit my preexisting biases, so I have no difficulty accepting it as true. But I imagine that these conclusions are diametrically opposed to the majority’s biases here, and I’m curious what you think of it.

    TL;DR: a study made in the ’30s of 86 different cultures found a striking relationship between sexual mores and societal health. A society which relaxes its constraints away from monogamy and pre-nuptial chastity is doomed to collapse within 3 generations (where generations are defined as 33 years).

    • EchoChaos says:

      I’ll note that I linked the same article in the thread downstream (from the same source).

      Obviously I also agree with its conclusions.

    • Or, in the poet’s words:

      On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
      (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
      Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

      But past evidence doesn’t tell us with confidence what happens if the relaxed norms are combined with reliable contraception and antibiotics to control venereal diseases.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        But past evidence doesn’t tell us with confidence what happens if the relaxed norms are combined with reliable contraception and antibiotics to control venereal diseases.

        That’s very true. But should we be confident that contraception and antibiotics will prevent collapse (assuming this theory is correct)?

      • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

        But past evidence doesn’t tell us with confidence what happens if the relaxed norms are combined with reliable contraception and antibiotics to control venereal diseases.

        Our women will have even less children and men will lose even more reason and faith? I don’t think you look at the right place for solution of problems that are promised. It will have to be automation to replace human capital lost to sex drugs and rock’n’roll.

      • eigenmoon says:

        And then there’s the issue of cryptocurrencies in divorce, which I believe will get bigger and bigger.

    • DinoNerd says:

      If true with regard to sexual mores in general, that’s pretty sad. (Though it’s easy to imagine ways such a study could define “collapse” in such a way as to assume its conclusions, etc. etc.)

      But from where I sit, a significant portion of “sexual mores” involve a combination of forcing square pegs into round holes, and reducing women’s life choices, freedom, etc. (Men too, but less so; they don’t get assigned breeding and child rearing as their primary career.)

      If the authors actually focussed entirely on one-sexual-partner-ever-in-anyone’s-life (=? monogamy and pre-nuptial charity) that would be different from sexual mores in general – and, I suspect, inconsistent with actual behaviour of many people in most societies. So perhaps they’d have to focus on how much societies act to shame people who get caught in the wrong bed – and/or shame such people unless they are rich, powerful, and male ;-(

      Somewhat more seriously, to what extent is cultural change being conflated with societal collapse? I find it difficult to imagine any study done in the 1930s that didn’t simply presume the superiority of the European culture of its times, and like as not e.g. define “becoming Christian” as improvement, while honestly believing they were doing sociology rather than theology.

      I’m particularly surprised to find that (if the above reprise is accurate) polygamous societies would be found to collapse after 3 generations. A casual look at history suggests that men-who-can-afford-it-have-more-women has been part of many societies that lasted much more than 3 generations.

      At any rate, while this is obviously something I don’t want to believe, I think my BS detector is also going off legitimately.

      • I find it difficult to imagine any study done in the 1930s that didn’t simply presume the superiority of the European culture of its times, and like as not e.g. define “becoming Christian” as improvement, while honestly believing they were doing sociology rather than theology.

        This is a fundamentally inaccurate view of Western academic culture in the 1930s, which was already quite secular. Christianization was associated with the dark ages, enlightenment thought and the victory of science over religion in the wars over heliocentrism, evolution, ect., was viewed as a great improvement.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          If anything, I’d expect an academic of the 1930s to be more likely to believe in myths like the “anti-science middle ages” or whatever.

      • Viliam says:

        The article defines societal collapse as “people who have little interest in much else other than their own wants and needs. At this level, the culture is usually conquered or taken over by another culture with greater social energy.”

        Even ignoring the underlying theory, the part “culture is conquered or taken over by another culture” seems like a reasonable definition of failure, because when another culture conquers your territory and makes their behavior the standard, the society is no longer optimizing for your values.

        (Cases when your values include things like “self-sacrifice” or “turning the other cheek” should be examined carefully, to avoid sophistry at interpreting your defeat as the ultimate victory. There is a difference between the scenario where you sacrifice your genes to promote your memes — when the conquerors today kill your priests and burn your temples, but 100 years later their descendants are building temples to your gods, and their priests give speeches on the importance of self-sacrifice and turning the other cheek — and the scenario where both your genes and your memes are gone — when the conquerors kill your priests and burn your temples, and that’s the last time anyone took the idea of self-sacrifice and turning the other cheek seriously; 100 years later there are just pyramids, gladiators, and sacrifice of prisoners to the conquerors’ ancient gods.)

        • DinoNerd says:

          At this level, the culture is usually conquered

          I’d distinguish sharply between cases where the culture was conquered etc., and cases where the norm simply became and remained to have lots of relatively selfish people.

      • Evelyn Q. Greene says:

        I find it difficult to imagine any study done in the 1930s that didn’t simply presume the superiority of the European culture of its times, and like as not e.g. define “becoming Christian” as improvement, while honestly believing they were doing sociology rather than theology.

        I’d find it very difficult to imagine it would. Academia in the 30’s was already very secular, and some ways more anti-religion then it is now.

        But from where I sit, a significant portion of “sexual mores” involve a combination of forcing square pegs into round holes, and reducing women’s life choices, freedom, etc. (Men too, but less so; they don’t get assigned breeding and child rearing as their primary career.)

        It forces men into a role that’s both more physically dangerous and less attractive than “breeding and child rearing”, as you so colorfully put it, is to women.

        • DinoNerd says:

          @Evelyn – assuming you are a woman, as I’d guess from your posting handle, you are one of the lucky ones – you prefer the role traditionally assigned to your kind to the one traditionally assigned to the other kind of person.

          I figure that in any society, there are those who happen to be born as round pegs, and happily embrace the round hole their society assigns to them; people who are born as square pegs, and people who can more or less comfortably adapt to either role.

          To the square pegs assigned the round hole – and for that matter, the round pegs assigned the square hole – it’s self evident that their assigned role is completely unattractive.

          And FWIW, the advantage of being male is that in stereotypcal 1950s America, or equivalent, there’s more than one career available to just about any boychild, and he’ll get to spend as much as half his waking hours on that career. Whereas his sister has only one choice – who to marry.

          • And FWIW, the advantage of being male is that in stereotypcal 1950s America, or equivalent, there’s more than one career available to just about any boychild, and he’ll get to spend as much as half his waking hours on that career. Whereas his sister has only one choice – who to marry.

            I’m not sure if “stereotypical” there means that you are not talking about the historical 1950’s America, but if you are, I think you exaggerate. There was one career followed by a considerable majority of women, but not all. There were, for instance, a fair number of female academics, not all of them married. That’s the case obvious to me, since they were my parents’ friends, but I expect someone with a different background could offer other examples.

          • LadyJane says:

            @DavidFriedman: You’re right, but DinoNerd’s point still stands, they just chose a particularly bad example. Rather than 1950s America, they could have mentioned [just about any place and time in human history that wasn’t a Western country in the 20th or 21st century], and their argument would’ve been correct.

          • they could have mentioned [just about any place and time in human history that wasn’t a Western country in the 20th or 21st century], and their argument would’ve been correct.

            For most of those societies, you could make essentially the same statement about men–most of the labor force was in farming.

            Women were the only ones producing babies, and still are. Beyond that, in lots of societies, most people were part of a two person team running something–usually a farm, for a few an estate. A few men might be craftsmen or soldiers, a few women might be nuns or craftswomen or prostitutes, but most people of either sex had a pretty limited set of alternatives.

          • DinoNerd says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I’m not sure if “stereotypical” there means that you are not talking about the historical 1950’s America, but if you are, I think you exaggerate.

            I was mostly being lazy. I didn’t want to check detailed facts, and the 1950s stereotype was handy.

            The 1950s were also the culture I was born into, though not in the US, and to a large extent I’m reacting to what options were presented to girls as available and likely. The main one was housewife, but before marriage, or if unlucky enough not to catch a man, the choices appeared to consist of waitress, secretary (+typist +bookkeeper), teacher, or nurse.

            When I’m not channeling my childhood, I’m aware there were other options, both fairly common ones (garment trade, prosititution, house cleaning) and some occuppied by only a determined and fortunate few (doctor, academic, etc).

            For most of those societies, you could make essentially the same statement about men–most of the labor force was in farming.

            Divisions of labour other than male/female are fairly old, but there were certainly 1000s of years when the average person was a peasant, and had few alternatives.

            During that time, it can easily be argued that lack of choice applied to both men and women more or less equally.

            But by 1900, 40% of the US population was urban, according to a fast check with Google. This is well into the period where boys had more and better options than their sisters.

            If some catastrophe takes us back to a society where most people are peasants, this whole argument will be more or less moot. Likewise if we ever develop a utopic society where people are OK with everyone being what they want to be – or at least attempting it.

          • John Schilling says:

            Beyond that, in lots of societies, most people were part of a two person team running something–usually a farm, for a few an estate. A few men might be craftsmen…

            If I recall correctly, most of the European craft guilds, even in such manly crafts as blacksmithing, had an exemption to the “no girls allowed” rule for the widows of craftsmen. Suggesting that even there, the man was often the public face of a two-person team rather than a sole proprietor.

    • Aftagley says:

      Some questions:

      1. It looks like the study is focused on pre-industrial and mostly tribal civilizations. I could see evidence that knowing who the parent is would be very important in such a civilization, less so in modern times. Are we sure he didn’t just find out “hey, if your civilization is focused around blood kinship, make sure the kinship associations are strong?”

      2. Are we sure the causality arrow is pointing in the correct direction? How do we know that if societies start declining for unrelated reasons, they don’t just decide that maintaining these kinds of traditions isn’t just a waste of effort?

      3. I find it very hard to believe that most of our successful cultures haven’t been able to survive one century long periods of relaxed sexual mores. Weren’t Greeks, Romans, Indians all pretty open?

      • EchoChaos says:

        Weren’t Greeks, Romans, Indians all pretty open?

        I don’t know about Indians, but Greeks, mostly no, especially for the successful Greek city-states, and Romans very no.

        Romans were incredibly strict about marital relations and punishments for adultery and promiscuity could be brutal. Which is not to say that people didn’t avoid them, but for example I recall that one statesman (Cato, maybe?) was proud that no one had ever seen him naked, which he regarded as primitive (yes, he included his wife and son).

        Augustus’s reforms focused heavily on social conservatism and especially marriage. Rome was also monogamous, which was unusual for that period, and may have also contributed to their success.

        • Aftagley says:

          Hmm, I admit my knowledge here is pretty heavily influenced by the pop-culture perception of Rome being a non-stop cavalcade of orgies and emperors doing weird things while cross dressing. Are these conceptions inaccurate, or just from a much later post-height period of the empire?

          • EchoChaos says:

            Well, two different things here. Cavalcade of orgies, absolutely not, at least not in any sort of acceptable sense.

            Marriage and adultery were pretty strict and it was even illegal to have a concubine at the same time as a wife.

            Specific Emperors doing that kind of stuff was 50% bad elites abusing their power and 50% propaganda against that Emperor.

            Imagine if you’re a 23rd Century historian who ends up reading Pizzagate craziness about our current set of elites and absolutely nothing else about sexual mores in the early 21st Century America. You’d think it was a cavalcade of orgies and abuse of children, but of course those conspiracies work precisely because everyone despises that.

          • Nick says:

            @EchoChaos
            I’ve heard the same pushback about the crazy stories (that it was rumor and propaganda more often than not, basically); do you happen to have any citations?

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Nick

            Not on specific Emperor misconduct, unfortunately. Mostly a collection of remembered books and college courses that I’ve taken on Roman History.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Rome certainly seems to have had more than its fair share of weird emperors; personally I blame their habit of using lead to flavour their wine, which might also account for the low fertility rates of the Roman elite. But as Echo Chaos said, those were mostly reported because they were weird, not because they were normal. Generally, and with the usual caveats about mores shifting over time, men were given a fair bit of leeway in terms of visiting prostitutes and the like, whilst women were expected to strictly maintain their chastity.

        • I thought the consensus was that Augustus’ social conservative reforms were a failure? I don’t think the state back then was powerful enough to enforce those kinds of rules.

        • a reader says:

          Romans evolved from very strict mores in early times to very libertine ones already in late republic, in Cesar’s time, when divorce an remarriage already became common. There are plenty of primary sources – some who deplore the change, like Juvenalus and (to a lesser degree) Tacitus, some who enjoy the change, like Ovidius or Petronius, some who just mention such things whitout condemning or endorsing. Divorce during the Empire (before it became Christian) was probably as common as now in the US, if not more.

          Augustus tried to reverse the change, but was so unsuccessful that he sent into exile both his daughter and his granddaughter for adultery (and also a number of men who were their lovers). The facts that he made a pregnant woman (Livia) divorce his husband to marry him and 2 men (Agrippa and then Tiberius) divorce their wives to marry his daughter show that he wasn’t himself a true believer in marriage for life.

      • quanta413 says:

        Weren’t Greeks, Romans, Indians all pretty open?

        I’ve seen people claim this, but I haven’t seen it backed up in a convincing way. It seemed to me like different cultures were maybe more open in some ways, but usually much less open in other ways. And that’s comparing to current “conservative” sexual mores. Compared to current “liberal”mores, pretty much nowhere I’ve read about seems more open to me.

        The Romans were different though, which could be mistaken for being open. There’s also a sort of weird bias if we take the lives of famous people as representative because scandalous stuff gets more attention. For example, Sulla’s supposed relationship with Metrobius, or Cato divorcing his wife Marcia so she could bear heirs for another man.

        Greeks at various times may have been more open to pederasty, but the wikipedia page overview is pretty fascinating in how distinct pederasty is from modern conceptions of homosexuality. You were still expected to have a wife when you got older, and no buggery. There are similar sorts of phenomenon in other cultures like in elite English boarding schools in the early 20th century.

        I know little about India (which is way more cultures than classical Greece or Rome), but it strikes me that the subset of Hindu cultures that practiced Sati are probably less open in important ways.

        • AlexOfUrals says:

          Compared to current “liberal”mores, pretty much nowhere I’ve read about seems more open to me.

          Well that’s not strictly true, is it? Compared to modern liberal mores most of historical cultures were more open in some ways, specifically toward non-consensual sex and sex involving people under 18 (I’m aware the latter is a special case of the former). Some of them probably to incest too, although I don’t really know what’s the liberal stance on this subject. And depending on whom you ask about liberal mores it can also apply to transactional sex.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            To be fair I’m not sure liberal mores are really that against sex involving people under 18. Or rather, if there’s a significant age difference the relationship will probably be seen as exploitative and icky, but getting offended at, say, two high school students having sex is more of a conservative thing.

          • AlexOfUrals says:

            I’m pretty sure people on both sides of the political spectrum are not ok with sex involving someone below 16, let alone 14, and an adult, and that it’s considered “horrible crime” rather than “icky”. As for sex between two teenagers, you may be right I’m not a great expert on liberal norms and those may vary. IIRC somewhere on this site – sorry for possible misquoting, misinterpreting or misattributing the quote – Ozzy said something along the lines “anyone who had sex at the age of 14 is more appropriately termed rape survivor” without qualification for another partner’s age, – and I believe they’re quite liberal, so I assumed it’s a general view. But maybe it isn’t or maybe I’m just mistaken (in which case again sorry for that).
            Then again, as you said, big age differences between adults. Many if not most past cultures were ok with those. And even (gasp!) with sex between coworkers.

          • Aftagley says:

            people on both sides of the political spectrum are not ok with sex involving someone below 16, let alone 14, and an adult, and that it’s considered “horrible crime” rather than “icky”.

            He’s not implying they are, or at least I didn’t read his statement to say as much.

            Then again, as you said, big age differences between adults. Many if not most past cultures were ok with those. And even (gasp!) with sex between coworkers.

            Have you ever worked in an office where everyone was having sex? It’s annoying as hell; the amount of drama increases exponentially, work performance starts to suffer and breakups can destroy team cohesion. Trying to manage a group like that is damn near impossible, because the standard motivations get all mixed up.

            Sure, maybe some kind of perfectly rational and optimal group of people can do so and not have it be a messy nightmare, but such groups are few and far between.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            ’m pretty sure people on both sides of the political spectrum are not ok with sex involving someone below 16, let alone 14, and an adult, and that it’s considered “horrible crime” rather than “icky”.

            Not an adult, no, unless both partners are only a year or two on either side of the age of consent. But I think most people assume that teenagers are generally having sex, and that this (at a minimum) isn’t harmful enough to be worth trying to stop.

            Ozzy said something along the lines “anyone who had sex at the age of 14 is more appropriately termed rape survivor” without qualification for another partner’s age, – and I believe they’re quite liberal, so I assumed it’s a general view.

            Here in the UK, and I gather in the US as well, a 14-year-old girl who goes to her school nurse and said “I’m pregnant” is more likely to be sent to her local abortion centre than to the police.

          • AlexOfUrals says:

            I think it’s a bit past the point who’s implying what, I’m saying that this kind of sex involving people under 18 was tolerated by I thiiiink the most, or at least many, historical societies, and is not tolerated by modern liberals (as well as pretty much everyone else). Please note that I, in turn, am not implying that was the right thing to do – slavery was also tolerated by pretty much everyone at some point.

            Have you ever worked in an office where everyone was having sex?

            Nope, or at least they didn’t invite me. Just because I’m making a joke about a norm doesn’t mean I think it’s completely useless, although I do think it may be a bit overdone in some places.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think the precise age of consent has bounced all over the place over time, with some non-horrible countries having an age of consent of 14 and others 21 even today. (14 sounds too young and 21 too old to me, but that’s probably because I’m used to the 16-18 range + some allowance for sex with people within a couple years of that that’s the norm in the US.)

          • quanta413 says:

            Well that’s not strictly true, is it? Compared to modern liberal mores most of historical cultures were more open in some ways, specifically toward non-consensual sex and sex involving people under 18 (I’m aware the latter is a special case of the former). Some of them probably to incest too, although I don’t really know what’s the liberal stance on this subject. And depending on whom you ask about liberal mores it can also apply to transactional sex.

            I agree it’s not strictly true. Mostly with regard to non-consensual sex being less bad. But my overall impression is that current “liberal” mores are more open overall than any other time and place I’ve read about. And it’s usually not even close. Although you can find specific current subcultures that are maybe even more open.

            Although I’m separating “liberal” from other left wing views of some feminists of the “sex-negative” persuasion I guess you’d say (I’m sorry I don’t remember what they like to call themselves compared to the “sex-positive” feminists). Those views can be fairly conservative about sexual mores in a way.

      • broblawsky says:

        3. I find it very hard to believe that most of our successful cultures haven’t been able to survive one century long periods of relaxed sexual mores. Weren’t Greeks, Romans, Indians all pretty open?

        I can’t say much about Greece or India, but Rome was … complicated. Post-Augustus, Roman law was very harsh on female infidelity, but both the use of prostitutes and sexual exploitation of slaves remained legal and quasi-acceptable for men. Patriarchy, in the ancient sense, was the rule; men could sleep around without consequence, provided they were somewhat discreet, while women who did so risked their lives. Here’s a paper describing this double-standard.

        • EchoChaos says:

          That’s pretty classic “not relaxed sexual mores”.

          I wouldn’t even call it complicated. That defines pretty much every conservative social society, because the elites always want to bend such rules.

          • broblawsky says:

            It’s definitely more relaxed than the Christian societies that followed it; compare their attitudes to prostitution.

            Edit: Also, compare Roman attitudes to divorce to early Christian attitudes. Rome practiced what was effectively no-fault divorce, at least for men; any Roman man could divorce his wife at any time. There’s even some evidence that women might have had recourse to divorce.

            Edit edit: Here’s a citation for Roman no-fault divorce.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @broblawsky

            I agree with you on all of that, especially Roman divorce, although I’ll note that Augustus (pre-Christian) believed that was harming Roman society in his moral reforms.

            But “more relaxed than medieval Christianity” is still very different than “relaxed sexual mores”.

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t know enough about Rome to compare the two, but medieval Christianity was considerably more relaxed about sexuality than a lot of the cultures that followed it. It was normatively monogamous, of course, and disapproving of what we’d now call serial monogamy, but approving of sexual pleasure within marriage (there’s an elaborate framework of theological symbolism for this) and apparently willing to forgive some level of premarital and extramarital sex — court records from the period, for example, are full of people trying to renegotiate marriages in the face of an extramarital pregnancy, and they sometimes succeeded. Bastardy also seems to have been common. Fiction from the period backs this up — the Canterbury Tales for example don’t paint a picture of a sexually uptight society by any means.

            Even a lot of the religious restrictions we’re familiar with only took effect midway through the period — until the 11th century, for example, it was fairly common for priests to openly maintain mistresses (I forget the Latin, but it translates to “partner” and carries all the modern connotations).

          • broblawsky says:

            I agree with you on all of that, especially Roman divorce, although I’ll note that Augustus (pre-Christian) believed that was harming Roman society in his moral reforms.

            But “more relaxed than medieval Christianity” is still very different than “relaxed sexual mores”.

            Honestly, it looks like late Republic/Imperial Rome isn’t too far off from the modern day in terms of sexual mores, if you ignore how extreme Roman patriarchy is. No-fault divorce, semi-acceptance of adultery by even married men, even some access to inheritance for illegitimate children, until the Empire became Christianized.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Honestly, it looks like late Republic/Imperial Rome isn’t too far off from the modern day in terms of sexual mores, if you ignore how extreme Roman patriarchy is.

            Well, yes, if you ignore the most salient areas of difference, Roman sexual mores do look similar to modern ones.

          • John Schilling says:

            Honestly, it looks like late Republic/Imperial Rome isn’t too far off from the modern day in terms of sexual mores, if you ignore how extreme Roman patriarchy is. No-fault divorce, semi-acceptance of adultery by even married men,

            The bit where adultery or even premarital sex by women is met by “now go die in a gutter, whore” levels of intolerance, strikes me as being way, way, off from modern sexual mores.

      • Tenacious D says:

        My sense of Indian culture (and I’m not sure how much this generalizes across regions or in different eras) is that it has some features that are overtly sensual (e.g. belly dancers, erotic stone carvings in temples) but they’re constrained to very specific contexts. For the most part, people’s social interactions (including courtship and mating) would be governed by strongly-defined roles (think of a less-legible version of the Five Relationships in Confucianism) and straying outside of them would be dangerous.

    • quanta413 says:

      It’s not clear to me what is meant by “collapse of a culture”. It seems unlikely the people all died, so I suspect their culture reverted to a more monogamous arrangement or something like that.

      I also don’t buy that western culture (or any culture really) has ever been very “rational”. That seems more like a bit floating on top of the great mass of culture to me, than the central tendency.

      I’d like to note that homosexual culture has already become more conservative compared to the 1970s, so you can imagine a collapse of culture where “hook-up” culture vanishes from both straight and gay populations but there are monogamous straight and gay cultures. But like others said above, no previous cultures had such effective birth control or medicine.

    • sicromoft says:

      Not sure Robin Hanson or his standing are relevant here. He tweeted the link and called it provocative, but did not say he agrees with or endorses it. If anything, he expressed skepticism, calling it “a quite old analysis, not using modern methods”.

    • AlexOfUrals says:

      Highest flourishing of culture: The most powerful combination was pre-nuptial chastity coupled with “absolute monogamy”. Rationalist cultures that retained this combination for at least three generations exceeded all other cultures in every area, including literature, art, science, furniture, architecture, engineering, and agriculture. Only three out of the eighty-six cultures studied ever attained this level.

      This looks like a huge red flag to me. Almost as big as the whole thing being a sociological study from 1930s. The statement is too broad and strong, I feel like one needs seriously flawed methodology to arrive to such conclusions.

      • Rob K says:

        nah man this analysis that includes a list of civilized people that appears to exclude e.g. the french, spanish, turks, etc is extremely rigorous, and the exact correspondence between subjectively assigned sexual mores, cultural rubrics, and levels of flourishing is no doubt done in a completely disinterested fashion.

    • Iago the Yerfdog says:

      To rephrase my own top-level comment on this idea, even on its own terms I find it dubious that relaxing sexual mores is a cause rather than an effect here. At some point, the marginal benefit of delaying gratification over not delaying falls to zero or below.

    • broblawsky says:

      Also, I have to disagree strenuously with Hanson’s evaluation that post-modernism is inherently irrational. “Skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism” are in and of themselves no less rational than the opposite behaviors, which as far as I can tell from Hanson’s writing come down to unquestioning acceptance of authority, particularly his own.

  14. johan_larson says:

    You are invited to devise a game that uses the following components. You don’t need to use all of them, but using more of them is better. You are not allowed to add components. The game must be playable with three people, and a broader range of participants is better.

    A large pad of paper, 50 sheets of 17” by 22”, with grid lines 1” apart.
    12 regular dice, white
    12’ of rope, 3/8” thick
    8 markers, each in a different color
    100 assorted international coins (like pennies, but different)
    25 counters (5 shapes in each of 5 colors)
    One standard deck of cards with no 7s
    9 plastic pipes, 2’ long, 1” inner diameter
    7 nesting cardboard boxes, ranging from 1” by 2” by 4” to 1’ by 2’ by 4’
    1 pair of scissors
    100 ml of lighter-fluid
    3 strike-anywhere matches

    • Jake says:

      Each player receives a marker of a different color, the 5 counters of their color and a plastic pipe.

      The object of the game is to collect the assorted international coins. For consistencies sake, I’ll assume there are 5 coins from each of 20 different countries, so we can make a 5×20 grid to outline the values for each coin.

      To determine the value of each coin to each player, we will mark each of the 7 nesting cardboard boxes with a number corresponding to its size, smallest is 7, biggest is 1. The boxes are placed in a somewhat dense array on the playing surface. Each player is then allowed to put their markers in any combination of the boxes (multiple markers in a single box are allowed). Then, in turn order, each player loads the 12 dice into their plastic pipe, stands so the bottom of the pipe is at least 2 ft above the playing surface, and attempts to dump their dice into one of the cardboard boxes. Any die that makes it into a box represents a value that all players can assign to a coin, by writing it on their grid paper in the appropriate location. The value is calculated by multiplying the value of the die * the number on the box * the number of markers they put in the box. If a die lands in a box in which you have no tokens, you must take write a 0 value for one of the coins. Opposing players can attempt to swat dice away with their pipes, but can not touch the player throwing the dice, their pipe, or any of the boxes.

      Once 100 dice have landed in boxes, and each player has written down all 100 values for coins, you separate the coins into groups by throwing the rope into a squiggly pattern on the floor, then tossing all the coins in the air, and grouping them using the rope to define boundaries between groups.

      Once you have determined your groups of coins, shuffle all the cards and deal an even amount to each player (or if you are playing with 4 or fewer players, give each player all of one suit if you want a more deterministic game). In turn order, each player picks a group of coins, and auctions it off using a blind auction where each player bids by playing a number of their cards (using standard J = 11, Q = 12, K=13). Highest bidder wins the coins and scores a number of points equal to the value on their score grid.

      After all coins are auctioned in this way, highest score wins. Lowest score is doused in lighter fluid and each of the other players is given a match to do with what they will. The scissors are placed in the loser’s hands afterwards so they can claim ‘he had a weapon.’

    • rocoulm says:

      The prompt includes 12 feet of rope, but you’ll need more like 12 feet *per player* for this. Hopefully it’s strand rope and can thus be divided up equally to give each player a piece the full length.

      Each player chooses one color of the 25 counters. They are also given one of the tubes. They are to use the scissors to cut their ropes into regulation-length pieces. They do this by first wrapping the rope around the circumference of the tube (12′ should get at least 36 wraps), then cutting the rope into 8 pieces. They will need 1 piece 1 tube-circumference long, 1 piece 2 tube-circumferences, and so on up to 1 piece 8 tube-circumferences in length. Any remaining rope is discarded.

      Each player uses the marker corresponding to the color of his counter and decorates the middle of each of his rope pieces with it. In this way, it should be readily identifiable as his to the rest of the players. Then, in turn order, the players take turns coloring the ends of their ropes one at a time with any color of their choice, with the following restrictions: (1) all rope end colorings are final and cannot be changed for the rest of the game, (2) each end of each rope must bear exactly one color, (3) no rope may have two ends of the same color and (4) each player must use each of the eight colors of markers in this stage at least once.

      The 100 coins are then divides into groups of various point values. There are 4 worth seven points, 6 worth six points, 8 worth five points, 12 worth four points, 16 worth three points, 24 worth two points, and 30 worth one point. The players are encouraged to collaborate in this, placing the most distinct or visually similar coins in the same groups as a memory aide, but this is not required. Players are to record the results for later reference in planning moves and scoring.

      All 100 coins, 12 dice and 25 counters (these will all be referred to as “tokens”) are placed in a box and mixed. The mixture is thrown into the air, covering the floor of the room randomly, thus generating the playing field. Before play begins, ambiguities in token placement need to be resolved – any tokens laying on top of another should be moved. It is up to the players to decide together whether the tokens in question should be simply placed beside one another, or moved elsewhere to fill in a sparser area of the playing field. After this is done, the field is “frozen”, and no more adjustments to token position may be made for the duration of the game.

      The most selfish player is selected to go first. Then, in turn order, each player places his shortest rope on the field, trying to capture the most points in tokens possible. The capture is completed by the player placing his rope so that it touches any tokens he intends to capture. The only tokens that are captured are the ones the rope is touching after the players lets go of the rope and declares the rope’s position to be final; before this point, he is allowed up to one minute to make adjustments, work out kinks, etc. In this way, on each turn, each player must play their shortest remaining rope on the field.

      When placed, ropes cannot overlap existing ropes on the field. Ropes may also be “daisy-chained” together (exception: see below), by placing their ends touching, but the ropes’ ends must have matching colors. If a chain of ropes ends in ropes owned by different players, the points captured by that chain are split between each player owning a rope in that chain, apportioned in proportion to the number of ropes each player has in that chain (NOT the number of points they have captured in that chain), rounded down. If a chain end in ropes owned by the same player, all points captured by that chain instead go to that player, as he has “captured” the chain itself.

      All points are counted and awarded to players after the final rope has been placed. Points are calculated as follows: on its own, each coin is worth between 1 and 7 points as determined before the start of play. Dice on the field act as an additive; each die adds the value on its top face to each coin it is connected to by a rope or chain. The counters can act as an “anchor”; if a player plays his rope such that the rope ends on a counter of his color, that end of the rope is anchored, meaning no players can daisy-chain it.

      After scores are calculated, the loser is immolated as in Jake’s rules.

  15. HeelBearCub says:

    I remember participating in an argument about response times, frames per second and computer gaming a long while back.

    Linus Tech Tips recently did a long and fairly rigorous (but not really scientifically rigorous as the number of subjects is too low) examination of the topic. It’s worth watching the video, but the upshot is that gaming performance rises with frame rate pretty much across the board, but rises more for the least experienced/skillful gamers.

    I can’t remember what the actual argument back then was about, but the idea that frame rate differences can’t effect performance because the difference in time between frames are already very small, and below the threshold off reaction time by humans, wouldn’t seem to be supported by these results.

    • thevoiceofthevoid says:

      I don’t buy it for a couple of reasons:
      1. My prior that any framerate above 60Hz is virtually indistinguishable. 60 Hz is already high enough to have some people complain that it’s overly smooth in movies, and I don’t think decreasing a 17ms delay to a 4ms delay between frames is going to cause a significant difference in reaction times on the order of 150-200ms.
      2. The video’s sponsored by a company that makes graphics cards. I don’t think Nvidia’s gonna want a video showing how actually framerate makes no difference once you’re above 50 or 60 Hz.
      3. They start with the “low” framerate, and then work their way up to the higher framerates. Alternative explanation for the improvement: They got slightly better with practice.

      ETA: They blow past it but at one point he says “We double-checked the server tick, it’s 128.” I’ll admit I don’t entirely understand the architecture of game servers, but wouldn’t that mean that improvements in framerate over 128 Hz couldn’t even in theory improve performance, since the server doesn’t even update faster than that?

      • LesHapablap says:

        Back in the days of CRT monitors, if they were set to 60 Hz it was noticeably flickery.

        It could well be that smoother motion allows your brain to track objects better. Animation is an illusion after all.

        Care to summarize the results? I did not want to watch a half hour video on that.

        • thevoiceofthevoid says:

          Neither did I, I just skipped through looking for key explanation and data. The more objective test (an actual measure of reaction time) had average reaction times around 180 ms for 60 Hz, decreasing very slightly to around 160 ms for the 240 Hz display.

      • hnrq says:

        Do you game at all? Have you ever played a game with a 144hz monitor? The difference is VERY clear, it would be ridiculous to say it is “virtually indistinguishable”. It’s not only about the delay (and I would argue the delay is the least important part), it’s about smoothness which helps a lot on “tracking”, specially on very fast games, but also makes the overall experience much more enjoyable.

        My personal experience is that tend to sacrifice game looks for fps so that I can get to at least 100hz, as the smoothness it gives is worth it.

        3. They did a random order, and even comment on this effect in the video. There is a clear improvement over different tries, but also an improvement independent of this factor.

        On the ETA: No, they are different things. That’s just how fast the game communicates with the server, but doesn’t relate with the actual reaction time, which is client-side. It would only mean that the precision of measurement is capped by the server tick.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          It would only mean that the precision of measurement is capped by the server tick.

          Not even really that. The movement and action is all done in the clients and captured there and sent to the server. The server tick rate just means it evaluates the results of that movement, and sends updates back out to the clients, 128 times per second (in this case). That process can be quite complex, but it doesn’t mean movement’s “precision” is capped by the tick rate. There are implications about how much advantage you can get because your movement is detected by the game client faster than on a directly competing lower FPS system, but that isn’t really movement precision.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        60 Hz is already high enough to have some people complain that it’s overly smooth in movies

        You might want to think carefully about a) whether that means it’s undetectable, and b) why people would complain about detecting it.

        The clue I will offer is that movies are actually a fiction.

      • gettin_schwifty says:

        For your first point, people are used to 24 FPS because that’s how movies have been for a long time, while soap operas used a faster frame rate, so it looked cheap to people. A higher rate could be better, but the paying masses hate change.

        Alternatively, I’ve read that 24 is better because of a lack of motion blur, and because it’s easier to read actor emotions. I suppose my point is that movies and games have different reasons for their frame rates. I think 60 is plenty for games, but I’m not exactly hardcore about gaming.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Soap operas are shot at 60 interlaced fields (2 fields per frame, odd and even) per second. On old CRT TVs they would be shown exactly that way — the TV would show the two interlaced fields in succession and rely on persistence of vision and phosphor to show you a full frame. I don’t know why motion interpolation subjectively “looks like” soap operas (though it does).

          Movies on film were typically shot at 24 frames per second. On a movie screen, they’d be shown at 24 frames per second. No soap-opera effect. On a modern 60Hz TV, they’re shown at what’s called “3-2 pulldown” (sometimes with “progressive” in there) — one frame is shown three times, then the next frame twice. This causes a noticeable unevenness (“judder”), but does not cause the soap-opera effect. Some TVs can show “5-5 pullldown” (at 120Hz) without motion interpolation; I don’t know what this looks like.

          If you’ve watched an old European TV show (50Hz) on a 60Hz TV, you’ve seen a different pulldown. To me, this creates an effect similar to but distinct from the “soap opera effect”.

          Motion blur has to do with the shutter speed of the camera. It’s necessary at 24 frames per second to fool your eye into seeing smooth motion; if you have 24 perfectly clear frames per second (as with stop-motion animation), the lack of smoothness is obvious. I expect there is some frame rate at which your eye would be fooled without the blur, but I don’t know what it is.

      • Three Year Lurker says:

        Focusing on reaction time is a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. All actions in a game are planned, and frame time must be part of this plan.

        When a player presses a key, they expect to start moving at a certain point. They plan out a sequence of presses and releases for some path, each carefully timed.
        A longer frame time means correcting every step of that plan.

        In addition, rendering directly to the screen causes tearing, where some shape has one position in the top of the screen, and a slightly different position in the bottom. This happens when the top of the screen is from the previous frame.
        To avoid that, games will use double buffering, where they render to a scratch area. When rendering is complete, they swap that with the screen so the screen only displays a complete non-torn scene.
        Effectively, this puts what you see an additional frame behind the internal state.

        Then, some games handle input at the beginning of the tick, some handle it at the end, adding another possible frame of latency.

        All planned presses and releases must be offset by the frame time multiplied by the frames of latency. You can easily see that at as the frame time decreases, the size of this correction factor also decreases.
        A smaller correction is easier to apply, and if it’s small enough, it can be ignored.
        More experienced players are accustomed to learning the correction factor needed for a specific game and adjusting their plans for it.

        Server latency in multiplayer games is a whole additional can of worms where what you see on the screen does not match reality and players must adjust. How the server state interacts with the client state varies wildly between games.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Focusing on reaction time is a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. All actions in a game are planned, and frame time must be part of this plan.

          I completely agree with the general idea here. This a fundamental concept that I think is easy to misunderstand.

          To amplify the idea, just because we can’t complete a reaction to a stimulus in less than 1/10 of a second DOES NOT mean that we can’t react to a stimulus more than 10 TIMES per second. The number of discrete stimuli we can detect and react to per second is clearly much higher than 10, 60 or 144. Each reaction is state dependent, and takes into account the reactions we have completed and the reactions we are already in process of making but haven’t completed.

          How well we do that is dependent on a large number of factors, most especially our existing neural biases (AKA – practice). It’s also important to understand that we are taking a digital output and reacting to it with an analog system, so even the basic idea of “how many times per second can we react to stimuli” is probably flawed (perhaps in the same way that the “1/2 way there” paradox is flawed.)

          When rendering is complete, they swap that with the screen so the screen only displays a complete non-torn scene.

          Here is something of a nitpick, (but, hey, it is SSC.)

          This technology (unless I am misunderstanding you) is known as “sync” and a) isn’t always supported (it depends on the monitor and the video card being in (heh) sync with each other, and b) is usually disabled in situations where the gamer cares more about performance than how the game looks. That calculation may change as we get higher and higher FPS numbers, but I think that still generally holds true.

          • Solra Bizna says:

            Monitor and video card are always in strict sync with each other, as far as the video signal is concerned. (This is actually a problem sometimes, which technologies like FreeSync try to ameliorate.) Waiting for the next vertical blank before the “swap” is called Vertical Sync, or V-Sync. “Pro Gamers” commonly disable it because it forces your framerate to the next lowest dividend of your refresh rate, e.g. on a 60Hz display, if you would have gotten 59.75fps¹ you would get 30fps instead. There have also been problems in the past with drivers queuing up many frames; with such a driver, enabling V-Sync often lowered framerate enough to make this obvious, adding noticeable latency on the order of 100-200ms². This was definitely severe enough to impact game performance. Many folks who were burned by that bear a grudge against V-Sync and disable it on sight. (Some of those folks are now using systems that force V-Sync on regardless of what their game thinks it’s requesting. Shhh, don’t tell them.)

            People who claim that humans can’t distinguish framerates above 60fps are missing the point. It’s true that at roughly 60Hz we can no longer distinguish individual frames, but our visual system doesn’t work on individual frames. More frames = more fluid motion, and the more fluid the motion is, the more closely it resembles real motion—the phenomenon our visual systems were designed for. (Edit: so to speak.)

            1. In this situation, without V-Sync, the swap might take place just a few percent of the way through displaying the old, stale frame, and so for the rest of that refresh the new, up-to-date frame would be displayed. So, there is a tangible benefit to disabling V-Sync in this case.

            2. I personally have observed latency of over 2 seconds on the old, CAD-oriented ATI Linux video drivers with an egregiously simple scene. Apparently, the number of frames it would choose to buffer was based on how many drawing commands would fit in its arbitrarily-sized command buffer, rather than on metrics like target latency or measured performance. Absurd for gaming, but reasonable for CAD.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            V-Sync does not half your frame rate under the conditions we are talking about, conditions where the system is fully capable of generating the display rate of the monitor. It halves your frame rate if the card can’t generate frames as fast as the monitor display rate. Under conditions where the card can generate frames faster than the monitor display rate, it just increase lag time.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I’ve never heard anyone complain 60Hz material shot at 60p (60 full frames per second) is too smooth. The “too smooth” complaints are typically about motion interpolation techniques, when you take stuff shot in 24p or 60i (60 interlaced frames per second) and try to make it look smooth on a 60 or 120Hz display.

        • acymetric says:

          I think the best thing that happened to me in the last 10 years is that I found out that was an option that could be disabled in the menu.

          Agreed that is what people are generally talking about.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          There have definitely been complaints about films shot and shown at 60 FPS.

          See the reception of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit”.

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      Social liberalism has a problem that it tends to cost money. There’s only so much socially liberal you can be before products of your liberation will come up to you demanding welfare for their bastard children or free drugs.

      • albatross11 says:

        How much money does freedom of religion or the press cost the taxpayers?

        • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

          What I was trying to say is that standards for social liberalism tends to shift, and simply leaving people alone is no longer seen as liberal enough because people need money to be liberated.

          I don’t think FC/SL folks really left social liberalism behind, so much as mainstream became disillusioned in letting people do what they want as long as they pay for it themselves.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            This is probably where the distinction between “liberal” and “progressive” resides.

            Thanks, I have had a hard time identifying the distinction.

        • SamChevre says:

          If “freedom of religion” is interpreted as “no religious influence on public mores”, quite a lot: look at levels of single-parent family formation rates pre and post Abingdon Township.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        I’m guessing this is misplaced, but I suppose it would be notable if even conversations about frame rates ultimately come down to competing theories of economics, social welfare and political systems.

    • sharper13 says:

      Frame rate in first person shooters is also significantly about target accuracy. The smoother refresh (without the jaggies, without the jumps during the motion) allows for someone to target a smaller location while the target is still there.

      Anyway, that’s how my good-enough-to-get-paid-for-teaching-others-how-to-play son explained it to me when he first purchased a 144Mhz monitor (upgrade from 60Hhz) and then a 240Mhz monitor and could easily tell the difference between them, although the change from 144-240 wasn’t as noticeable as from 60-144.

  16. LadyJane says:

    Is “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” a dead stance? It seems like most libertarians eventually abandon that position; they either reject the social liberalism and become social conservatives/alt-rightists who just happen to be extra gung-ho about capitalism and free markets (even if they still describe themselves as libertarians or classical liberals), or they reject the fiscal conservatism and become left-libertarians or outright DemSocs/AnComs. And the non-libertarian FCSLs (e.g. Mike Bloomberg and Howard Schultz types) seem almost universally despised by all sides, with almost no popular support. Why is this particular ideological stance so unpopular? I have my own theory, but I’m curious to hear if anyone else has any ideas.

    • cassander says:

      It seems like most libertarians eventually abandon that position;

      It seems pretty popular around here.

      Why is this particular ideological stance so unpopular?

      It’s unpopular with politicians because in practice it amounts to not doing much and leaving people alone. People get elected on promises to do and fix things, not to leave well enough alone.

      • Ketil says:

        It seems like most libertarians eventually abandon that position;

        It seems pretty popular around here.

        To the extent I agree with this, I think it is rooted in a preference for freedom. Government (or anybody else) should not hinder, obstruct, or prohibit people from doing what they want, unless there is good reason to. On a personal level I deeply resent attempts of coercion or otherwise forcing me into behaving according to somebody else’s preferences.

        For me, this is more important on social issues than on fiscal issues, so redistributive taxes seem less oppressive than being forced to bake a cake. I would probably be strongly Democrat-style progressive liberal back when social justice was about being allowed to love whom you wanted and being judged by the content of one’s character, but not now when it is about forcing others to use specific pronouns and giving individuals preferential treatment based on their group’s alleged victimhood level.

        • Peffern says:

          Look, I agree with you in principle – wokeness and the progressive stack is bad, social justice and rights for various flavors of minorities is good.

          That said, why does the acceptance of trans people necessarily fall into the second category? I understand you’re making kind of a Petersonian point about compelled speech but I don’t buy it. Surely any kind of “acceptance” is going to require buy-in from the general public. Being able to “love who you love” as you say (which I assume refers to gay marriage) required support from various marriage-associated institutions. And you seem to be fine with that. But when the same is applied to trans people you seem to have a problem and that’s what I don’t understand.

          • SamChevre says:

            That said, why does the acceptance of trans people necessarily fall into the second category?

            It doesn’t, if it’s mere personal acceptance: if it’s government-required acceptance… The whole edifice of anti-discrimination law as applied to non-government actors is an egregious offense against liberty.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Accepting gays doesnt change much in a person’s life, and the changes are generally positive. It’s an easy bridge to cross.

            Same with accepting trans people the way I’m prepared to accept trans people: afford them respect the same as everyone else and compassion for their condition which is no doubt a heavy burden to bear.

            But this is not what is asked of us. We are asked to redefine very basic words like “men” and “women”. We are asked to use fanciful pronouns like “xhe”. These are not small demands: anybody who’s trying to manipulate your language is trying to manipulate you, moreso when the words targeted are basic words that are in the vocabulary of a 6 year old. We are told that we’re bigoted if we’re not attracted to a “female penis”. We have trans women dominating women’s sports. We have feminists banned from twitter and subject to violent mobs for wanting to keep trans women out of rape shelters, women’s changing rooms, and women’s prisons. We have trans women suing people for refusing to wax their balls. We have young children being subjected to bizarre experiments that would never be allowed in other contexts.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Jermo Sapiens

            I want to make it very clear that I’m not accusing you of anything here. I believe you honestly hold the positions you claim to hold.

            That being said, that argument of “yes, yes, all social advances made before this point were good and I support them but THIS time those kooky progressives are tearing away at the foundations of society” falls flat because that’s the same argument that is always made to reject proposed social changes.

            Like, go back 15 years, and the version of this would be “oh, sure. I’m prepared to accept gays. I’ll afford them the respect I’d give other people, but you’re asking us to redefine basic words like Marriage and Spouse!”

            Go back 45 years and you’d get “oh sure, I’m prepared to accept blacks. I’ll afford them the same respect I’d give other people, but you’re asking us to redefine basic words like Voting and Equality!”

          • Radu Floricica says:

            @aftagley

            Gay marriage is about what gay people can do, pronouns are about what other people can do. The differece is not minor.

            If your guiding principle is freedom, the difference is capital.

            I have much more to say, but I do not want to dillute this point.

          • eyeballfrog says:

            @Aftagley While not arguing against your larger point, I’d like to point out that the black people example is really bad. The words voting and equality had well-established meanings that were exactly what the civil rights activists said they were. Everyone knew this, and segregation was an explicit denial of equality that the courts for some reason let the South get away with.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @jermo sapiens
            While all of those things may be asked of you by someone, my understanding is that many of those demands are not at all the position of most mainstream trans rights supporters, and that many of the others aren’t as egregious as you make them out to be. I think they’re worth addressing individually.

            We are asked to redefine very basic words like “men” and “women”. We are asked to use fanciful pronouns like “xhe”.

            I think this is really the core issue, since it’s the situation you or I are actually likely to personally encounter. Unfortunately, I’m probably not going to do it justice in this paragraph, but I’ll try. Basically, if you refer to someone (anyone, but especially trans people) by pronouns they don’t identify with, you will hurt their feelings; and if you do so repeatedly they will not want to be friends with you. Their are trans people whose feelings I care about and with whom I wish to maintain friendships; thus, I try my best to use people’s preferred pronouns. Conversational language is about communication and emotion, not biological rigor, so this “redefinition” doesn’t bother me terribly much.

            We are told that we’re bigoted if we’re not attracted to a “female penis”.

            I give this argument the same respect I give those who say it’s racist to e.g. have a preference for blondes–that is, none at all. Utter nonsense.

            We have trans women dominating women’s sports.

            Perhaps since my friends are generally more inclined towards video games than sports, this hasn’t ever been an issue that anyone close to me felt strongly about. I can see this one both ways.

            We have feminists banned from twitter and subject to violent mobs for wanting to keep trans women out of rape shelters,

            Fun fact: trans women can also be victims of rape. As can cis men, genderfluid people, and people of any other sex / gender identity. I support rape shelters for anyone who needs one, though I do not support the violent mobs.

            women’s changing rooms

            for the love of Christ almighty why can’t we just have individual stalls, I don’t want to see anyone’s genitalia outside a committed romantic relationship.

            and women’s prisons.

            Eh, not sure. I wouldn’t want to put a male-presenting prisoner who bubbled “female” on a form into a women’s prison, and I wouldn’t want to put a post-surgery trans woman who easily passed as female into a men’s prison.

            We have trans women suing people for refusing to wax their balls.

            WTF

            We have young children being subjected to bizarre experiments that would never be allowed in other contexts.

            Another difficult question. Puberty blockers may prevent vastly worsened dysphoria in dysphoric children, or stunt the development of those who will (or would) later desist, or more likely have either effect in different situations. Ozy talks here about the issue and comes out on the side of “affirm identity but hold off on the drugs at least until we have more research on desistance.” In any case, I think it’s safe to say you can advocate against hormone therapy for children without immediately running afoul of trans rights advocates.

            Though these issues are obviously all connected, it’s misleading to lump those positions together as if they represented the consensus view on trans right issues among LGBT+ advocates.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            That being said, that argument of “yes, yes, all social advances made before this point were good and I support them but THIS time those kooky progressives are tearing away at the foundations of society” falls flat because that’s the same argument that is always made to reject proposed social changes.

            This is a fair point. But I dont think that’s what I’m arguing. At least it’s not what I intended to argue.

            Firstly, I do not support all social advances made to this point. Quite the contrary.

            Secondly, my argument is not that progressives are tearing away at the foundations of society by pushing for trans rights. I dont think trans people are large enough in numbers to have that much of an impact either way.

            My argument is that normal people, when confronted with trans rights in a way that will affect them personally, will not react the way progressives hope they will, because the personal cost is greater than with gay rights. Being friendly with your gay neighbor is fun. There is no personal cost to being in favor of gay rights, and in fact there is some reward.

            But the same guy who gladly dropped his weakly-held homophobia in 1993 or whatever, wont be so pleased to learn that his 15 year old daughter is forced by the school district to change in front of 15 year old males. At least that’s my prediction for now.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Radu

            Gay marriage is about what gay people can do, pronouns are about what other people can do. The differece is not minor.

            A major argument against gay marriage was the concept that marriage explicitly defined an arrangement between a man and a woman and that expanding it to include two people of the same gender would fundamentally alter what marriage was. An at the time accepted argument was that it would lead to people feeling like they could marry dogs or marry groups. People were very worried that this expansion of liberty meant that every marriage, including straight marriage would be altered. People were also incensed that they’d be forced by the state to recognize that these two people were married even though their definition of marriage didn’t account for their union.

            This action forced people to change how they viewed and talked about marriage. In a real way, this change also affected their freedom… just not in a way, it turns out, that any noticeable chunk of the society ended up caring about.

            @eyeballfrog

            Yeah, my use of 45 years there was incorrect. If I retroactively amend it to 150 years, does that meet your approval?

            ETA
            @Jermo Sapiens

            You might be right, although my personal prediction is that the great march of indifference towards these kinds of things will continue on unimpeded.

          • lvlln says:

            Like, go back 15 years, and the version of this would be “oh, sure. I’m prepared to accept gays. I’ll afford them the respect I’d give other people, but you’re asking us to redefine basic words like Marriage and Spouse!”

            Go back 45 years and you’d get “oh sure, I’m prepared to accept blacks. I’ll afford them the same respect I’d give other people, but you’re asking us to redefine basic words like Voting and Equality!”

            None of this works. Gay marriage doesn’t require redefining “marriage” or “spouse.” A homophobe, today, is perfectly free to claim that 2 men married by the state to each other are not “married” and that they are not each others’ “spouses.”

            Likewise, a racist, today, is perfectly free to claim that black people don’t have the right to vote and that they are not equal to white people.

            This is very different from the current topic of trans “rights” where the demand is that people in general not be allowed to refer to a MTF transwoman as a “he” or a “man” if that transwoman desires not to be referred to in that way.

            If we were to limit ourselves to the discussion of something like an MTF transwoman’s right to use female locker rooms with cis girls and women, then there’d be a case to make similar to what you made. But Ketil’s earlier post was specifically referring to “forcing others to use specific pronouns.”

          • jermo sapiens says:

            While all of those things may be asked of you by someone, my understanding is that many of those demands are not at all the position of most mainstream trans rights supporters

            I didnt say they were. In fact my view is that these are the demands of the annoying top 10% most radical/vocal trans activists. But my argument does not rely on what the mainstream is, but on what is most visible. If the other trans activists dont stand for this, they need to step up and call it out, which they’re not doing. They would if it was easy, like if trans activists said something racist.

            On pronouns:
            I would do the same if I had a friend who was trans. But I would never use “xhe”, and if they insisted I did, I would use their name. In Canada, where I live, it’s against the law to misgender or deadname someone. That is an abomination and I oppose it with every fiber of my being.

            On female penises:
            We’re on the same page it seems. But this argument is being made by high profile people. I dont think it will ever gain traction, because of the argument I raised above: when individuals are confronted with these things in real life, the personal cost is too high.

            On rape shelters:
            I too hope that anyone who needs a rape shelter can find one. And further, that if anyone needs a single-sex rape shelter, they can find one also.

            On changing rooms:
            Yes for individual stalls. And for individual bathrooms.

            On law suits over ball waxing:
            This is a famous Canadian case. The plaintiff lost, but the process being the punishment, some of the defendants lost their business because of this.

            It’s misleading to lump those positions together as if they represented the consensus view on trans right issues among LGBT+ advocate

            Honestly, that’s a total strawman. I’m not making any claims about consensus. But every issue I mentioned is very real and it’s the stuff people hear about when they hear about trans issues. This is the face of LGBT activism, whether it represents the mainstream or not. It’s up to the mainstream to make sure it’s represented, not up to the genpop to carefully evaluate whether the activists’ demands represent the mainstream.

          • acymetric says:

            @thevoiceofthevoid

            I think you’re generally right, but I want to pick a couple nits with a few of your points.

            trans women can also be victims of rape. As can cis men, genderfluid people, and people of any other sex / gender identity. I support rape shelters for anyone who needs one, though I do not support the violent mobs.

            This is 100% true, and trans people should have access to rape services just like any other person. The issue is that rape shelters are somewhat necessarily gendered. The issue is with pre-op trans people, who either present as their new gender or present as their original gender but identify as their new gender. I’m not sure you can put a person who looks like a man in a women’s rape shelter, or even if they present as a woman but have male genitalia, because of the impact on the other female victims on the shelter. On the other hand, that person might well not be comfortable in a male rape shelter (do these exist?) if they identify and/or present as a woman.

            This is a tricky issue, but for now the needs of the many probably outweigh the needs of the few where it is impossible to make reasonable accommodations for the few without severely detracting from the many. I don’t particularly like this answer, but I don’t think there is a better one (trans-specific shelters, maybe, but I’m not sure there would be enough demand for these in most locations to make them readily available for trans people outside of very dense urban areas).

            for the love of Christ almighty why can’t we just have individual stalls, I don’t want to see anyone’s genitalia outside a committed romantic relationship.

            I’m fine with this, and suspect there will be a trend towards this in new construction, but we have a lot of existing buildings and infrastructure not built this way. What would be the cost to convert all bathrooms nationwide to stalls? Less importantly, what is the result of lower total capacity of bathrooms at eventy-type venues in terms of already long bathroom lines?

            Eh, not sure. I wouldn’t want to put a male-presenting prisoner who bubbled “female” on a form into a women’s prison, and I wouldn’t want to put a post-surgery trans woman who easily passed as female into a men’s prison.

            I agree, this one is pretty simple, I think. In jail/prison, you get grouped with whatever gender matches your genitalia. You cannot mix genitalia in prison, period, regardless of gender identity. Generally I’m in favor of treating prisoners as well and as much like regular people as possible, but in this case it just isn’t practical to safely respect someone’s gender identity if they have the opposite reproductive parts (post-op would be jailed with people of their new gender).

            Another difficult question. Puberty blockers may prevent vastly worsened dysphoria in dysphoric children, or stunt the development of those who will (or would) later desist, or more likely have either effect in different situations. Ozy talks here about the issue and comes out on the side of “affirm identity but hold off on the drugs at least until we have more research on desistance.” In any case, I think it’s safe to say you can advocate against hormone therapy for children without immediately running afoul of trans rights advocates.

            I’m not sure this is true. Ozy is a much more thoughtful (in terms of thinking critically, I feel like I’m using the wrong word but I can’t think of the right one) person than people on average, and that is includes your average trans rights activist as well. It is certainly true for some activists, but I would hesitate to say that it is true for even a majority of them. Same with the “not attracted to trans women” issue, to be honest (moreso for post-op than pre-op).

          • Aftagley says:

            @lvlln

            I think I’ve got to be misunderstanding you.

            Are you claiming that if a person went out into public and told black people they weren’t equal to white people, told gay couples they weren’t actually married and misgendered trans people, the thing only thing people would be upset about would be the misgendering?

            I’d posit people would be angry about all three of those actions.

          • eigenmoon says:

            @Aftagley
            Libertarians are not always opposed to proposed social changes, you’re thinking of conservatives. Libertarians have always advocated for the state to leave gays alone (see Hayek “Constitution of Liberty”, 1960). Libertarians have always advocated for abolishing slavery (see Spooner “The Unconstitutionality of Slavery”, 1845).

            The Left had temporarily adopted some libertarian opinions but yes, THIS time those kooky progressives are tearing away at the foundations of society, and just because conservatives see it too doesn’t mean it’s not true.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Aftagley

            I think @lvlln’s point is that none of those things are actively illegal, whereas he believes that trans activists are trying to make the third actually prohibited speech.

          • lvlln says:

            I think I’ve got to be misunderstanding you.

            Are you claiming that if a person went out into public and told black people they weren’t equal to white people, told gay couples they weren’t actually married and misgendered trans people, the thing only thing people would be upset about would be the misgendering?

            I’d posit people would be angry about all three of those actions.

            I’m not claiming that. First of all, just going into public and telling people anything they disagree with is going to anger people. And talking about someone’s marriage or the equality of certain individuals simply comes up orders of magnitude less often in regular conversation than the pronouns one uses to refer to someone.

            But what I’m saying is that the current demands are that the anger about misgendering be enforced through policy, i.e. official legal sanction against someone who misgenders. The demands for the other groups was that government apply the standards of legal marriage to gay couples, not that everyone acknowledge under threat of force that such a marriage is truly “marriage” in their everyday speech, and that government provide the right to vote to black people, not that everyone acknowledge under threat of force that they have the vote in everyday speech. These are meaningfully different.

          • Aftagley says:

            @Eigenmoon
            I don’t think I mentioned libertarians or tried to allege they hold any particular beliefs. If I did, or if that came across in my writing, I apologize.

            @EchoChaos/ilvin

            Ah, ok. My bad, I miscued what you meant by saying someone would be “perfectly free” to keep voicing those opinions.

            I’d counter by saying that’s only because enough people aren’t choosing to go around saying those things. I’d imagine that if they did go around saying that stuff often enough and in great enough numbers, eventually the rest of society would seek to restrict that behavior.

          • lvlln says:

            I’d counter by saying that’s only because enough people aren’t choosing to go around saying those things. I’d imagine that if they did go around saying that stuff often enough and in great enough numbers, eventually the rest of society would seek to restrict that behavior.

            Presuming this is correct, this doesn’t change the fact that referring to someone by a pronoun is orders of magnitude more common than commenting on the veracity of someone’s marriage or their equality in terms of moral worth. The far greater rate at which people go around saying these things is an intrinsic characteristic of pronouns, and that’s one reason why enforcing people’s choice in pronouns is something very different from and more invasive than enforcing their choice in acknowledging the reality of someone’s marriage. If it’s a difference in quantity, I contend that the difference in quantity is so different as to take on a quality of its own.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @jermo sapiens
            It sounds like we’re in more agreement than I initially thought. Re: legal protections: I am strongly in favor of referring to people as their preferred gender (or at least avoiding pronouns or going with ‘they’), but strongly against laws mandating such. From a few minutes of googling, it looks to me like misgendering someone a few times in Canada won’t get you arrested or fined, but distributing anti-trans pamphlets will. You can’t legislate acceptance (though you can legislate the appearance of acceptance if you’re willing to be draconian enough). I don’t think fining Bill Whatcott $55,000 for printing “God says transgenderism is fake” pamphlets convinced anyone new that trans people are valid.

            Re: Vocal minorities vs quiet moderates: This is why I try to learn about social-justice-ish issues from friends and other people I trust in real life, whenever possible. (Failing that, from mild-mannered left-libertarian bloggers.)

          • jermo sapiens says:

            it looks to me like misgendering someone a few times in Canada won’t get you arrested or fined

            It depends how litigious the person is. It’s enough of a threat that I would avoid trans people for that reason alone. And I would understand if anybody would avoid hiring trans people over that litigation risk.

            I don’t think fining Bill Whatcott $55,000 for printing “God says transgenderism is fake” pamphlets convinced anyone new that trans people are valid.

            Bill Whatcott has negative charisma. If I was arguing in favor of a cause I would pay Bill Whatcott to argue against it. The Canadian government managed to make Bill Whatcott sympathetic and trans activists look like bullies.

          • beleester says:

            It’s my understanding that misgendering someone can get you sued in the same way that calling a black person the n-word can get you sued – there is no law that makes it an offense per se, but it can be used to prove harassment, or other speech-based offenses that already exist.

            Also, NAL, but not hiring trans people because you think they’re a litigation risk seems like you’re opening yourself up to an even bigger lawsuit for gender discrimination. I would run that idea by a lawyer before I made it my hiring policy.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Also, NAL, but not hiring trans people because you think they’re a litigation risk seems like you’re opening yourself up to an even bigger lawsuit for gender discrimination.

            Of course one should not make this one’s official policy — that would be a very bad idea. But truthfully it isn’t hard at all to discriminate against any group in hiring if one is smart enough. Hiring is a very subjective process (and labor lawyers encourage all managers to make it even more so). One can easily come up with reasons you didn’t hire someone, which don’t have to be the real reasons. If you have a large organization with none of one particular group, you might have to hire some of that group and relegate them to unimportant positions.

            Not that I am suggesting one purposely discriminating against protected groups; I’m just saying it isn’t hard to get around anti-discrimination laws if you are smart about it. It isn’t rational to discriminate against Blacks or women or gays for employment, as long as one can collect more cogent factors to make the decisions. Although maybe if I lived in Canada, I would find it rational to discriminate against hiring transsexuals, since the laws are so bad.

          • pansnarrans says:

            @jermo

            We are told that we’re bigoted if we’re not attracted to a “female penis”. We have trans women dominating women’s sports. We have feminists banned from twitter and subject to violent mobs for wanting to keep trans women out of rape shelters, women’s changing rooms, and women’s prisons.

            This sounds like a list of things that aren’t true, or at least are rare. I’m pretty sure Twitter doesn’t have a rule banning people for wanting transwomen out of rape shelters.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I’m pretty sure Twitter doesn’t have a rule banning people for wanting transwomen out of rape shelters.

            They may not have such a rule written down, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ban people for writing tweets based on that belief.

          • John Schilling says:

            @beelester:

            It’s my understanding that misgendering someone can get you sued in the same way that calling a black person the n-word can get you sued

            I’m fairly certain that this is not the case. It might get your employer sued, particularly if you work at a university (because that brings in Title IX as well as generic harassment law), but the actual offender’s liability would then be the same as anyone who needlessly gives their employer grief to deal with.

            If there are examples of people being directly sued for misgendering, I’d like to hear it.

            @Nybbler:

            They may not have such a rule written down, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ban people for writing tweets based on that belief.

            It also doesn’t mean that they will. Again, I’d prefer examples rather than fearmongering.

          • pansnarrans says:

            @ Nybbler

            They may not have such a rule written down, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ban people for writing tweets based on that belief.

            Yes, agreed. But has that actually happened? Because I can’t help wondering whether someone just got comments blocked for abusing trans people and now wants to change the narrative to make them the victim.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Because I can’t help wondering whether someone just got comments blocked for abusing trans people and now wants to change the narrative to make them the victim.

            There’s essentially no way to tell for exactly this reason. No matter how unreasonably the commenter acted, they will claim the ban was for the stated reason. No matter how unreasonably _Twitter_ acted, they and/or their defenders will claim the ban was for some other good reason.

          • Nancy Lebovitz says:

            The legal and the social overlap. The push for gay marriage wasn’t just about it being legal, it was about making gay marriage socially acceptable.

            I’ve been told that the reason gay marriage was chosen as a major issue was partners not getting visitation rights in hospitals during the AIDS epidemic.

          • John Schilling says:

            I’ve been told that the reason gay marriage was chosen as a major issue was partners not getting visitation rights in hospitals during the AIDS epidemic.

            We’ve all been told that, but it isn’t plausible. Changing hospital visitation laws would have been far easier and less disruptive than changing marriage laws, and so would have brought gay partners together with their sick loved ones sooner while generating less ill will. The observed behavior is only plausible if the actual goal was something else and “hospital visitation” was the best excuse available.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @John Schilling

            I can see the “hospital” issue being an immediate catalyst for thinking about everything else (including other conceivable emergencies) spouse-hood allows. So I can plausibly see how the hospitalization issue immediately led to the marriage issue.

            Visitation includes both those included and those excluded, and can be extremely touchy given the particularities of individuals, and the particularities of hospitalization (how does one ensure that every possible hospital one could arrive at knows that so-and-so should be considered legal next-of-kin [over-riding one’s legal parents and siblings in the next-of-kin priority], in the event of an immediate, catatonia-inducing event?).

            Okay, so you have a solution for hospitals. Now how about prisons, employer-sponsored insurance (which has an immediate bearing on hospitalization), etc…?

            Marriage laws only include those forbidden from marrying, and on their face immediately fall into the immediate “next-of-kin” category for all hospitals, prisons, employer-sponsored insurance, etc….

            Far easier changing marriage laws than addressing every possible contingency separately.

          • John Schilling says:

            Far easier changing marriage laws than addressing every possible contingency separately.

            Perhaps, but literally every single time I ask the proponents of gay marriage “what other contingencies?” the response is just “but hospital visitation is really important“. And I’m pretty sure that’s literally-literally true. So I actively disbelieve that any other contingencies were involved.

            The most charitable explanation is that gay marriage per se was the goal, and that hospital visitations were the excuse.

          • DeWitt says:

            The most charitable explanation is that gay marriage per se was the goal, and that hospital visitations were the excuse.

            Sure. Gays and their allies are also human, also are active in politics, and also find out it’s terrible because of it. Yeah.

          • Dacyn says:

            Wiki says: “Same-sex marriage can provide those in committed same-sex relationships with relevant government services and make financial demands on them comparable to that required of those in opposite-sex marriages, and also gives them legal protections such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights.” That’s four different reasons, though I don’t know how important each of them is.

          • John Schilling says:

            That’s four different reasons, though I don’t know how important each of them is.

            I count two reasons and two generalizations, and we already had wills.

        • Theodoric says:

          I think there’s an action vs inacton thing going on. Two people of the same gender getting married, or a person smoking pot, or a person engaging in sex work, doesn’t really require anyone else to do anything. A biological male demanding to be called “she” or a person demanding everyone use a made-up pronoun to refer to them, is demanding more of others than non-interference.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Two people of the same gender were already free to live together, call themselves married, have a wedding ceremony, etc. The demand was that the rest of society should give them certain privileges. So I think the transgender comparison is a valid one.

          • albatross11 says:

            One result of the Masterpiece Cake case is that everyone who formerly was willing to support rights for various sexual minorities on the basis of “live and let live” and “no skin off my nose” has now realized that they’re likely to see coercion used to make sure that the new recognition of rights takes a bit of skin off your nose, like it or not. A lot of the more strident visible trans activism[1] seems to follow the same pattern–“Let me live my life as I want to, it’s my body and none of your business” morphed into “call me by the wrong name/pronoun or dispute that I’m really a woman and I’ll get you fired or tossed off Twitter or (in Canada) maybe in trouble with the law.”

            I understand the dynamic here, I think–trans people have been treated really badly over the years, and still get (literally) beaten up and even murdered way the hell too often, and often seem like they’re really starving for some level of social acceptance. When it seems like it may be in reach, I get why a lot of them push really hard to demand it. But I think this has triggered a backlash, and the backlash is likely to make people far less accepting in the future.

            [1] My intuition is that this is probably a small group of loud outliers with a lot of media impact for ideological reasons, but my sample is skewed–I know only one transwoman really well, and she is absolutely a strident trans rights activist.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            When it seems like it may be in reach, I get why a lot of them push really hard to demand it. But I think this has triggered a backlash, and the backlash is likely to make people far less accepting in the future.

            Yep, the radical trans folks have definitely made life a lot more difficult for their fellow trans people. I think even most conservatives were willing to live and let live as long as trans folks kept a low profile. This whole in your face thing is a real tragedy for trans people just trying to live their lives.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        Surely you and the OP are talking about two different groups of people? “Leave well enough alone” and “Mike Bloomberg” are about as far apart as you can get.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      “Fiscal Conservatism” fails more often than it succeeds in practice for elected officials because there’s really no pressure in the US [at least at the federal level]

      Also electorially if you plot voters on a political compass you’ll see that while the top right corner might be fairly highly represented by intellectuals and certain right-wing think-tanks (who think that abandoning religiosity and social issues will improve the chances of republicans) it’s very scarcely populated by actual voters.

      Here’s another narrative: Around 2008 people who were teens or young adults who had right wing psychological leanings found Ron Paul and/or internet libertarianism. The number of self-identified libertarians surged because of it and also because people did not want to identify with Bushism or neoconservatism.

      Then around 2013 you had the great awokening, woke capital, bake the cake, anti-white rhetoric. Aside from maybe legalizing polygamy and abolishing the age of consent, what do libertarians have to offer social liberals nowadays. The new goal posts of social liberalism don’t meld well with freedom of conscience, association, contract, and speech.

      Libertarians had answers [perhaps wrong ones] for the wars and the great recession, but what did it have to say about this new political phenomenon?

      I suspect that most adults who were libertarians before 2008 remained libertarians after 2013 so what you’re seeing is libertarianism going back to it’s relatively insignificant size.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      More attractive policies emerged for a changing electorate. The elected GOP seems to have radicalized pretty hard post-2008 in response to a strong segment of the GOP base demanding greater purity and more brinksmanship. They really disliked Obama and they really disliked establishment conservativism for screwing up in Bush years and trying to pass amnesty in 2006.

      Also since 2010, Progressivism and Social Wokeness has really amped up. The loss in 2016 and the existence of Trump mobilizes this sentiment in a similar way to the GOP in 2010, but turbo-charged since the median Dem really has radicalized.

      But the socially liberal, fiscally conservative crowd still wields disproportionate power, and I wouldn’t count them out yet.

      On a personal level, most of the socially liberal, fiscally conservative people I know aren’t alt-right, and they all voted for Obama at least once (besides myself), but they reallllllllyyyy don’t like Democratic strategies on things like Kavaunagh. They also are socially liberal, but they are NOT Woke.

    • Erusian says:

      There aren’t that many of them. It breaks down roughly that 30% of the electorate is fiscally and socially conservative, 30% is fiscally and socially liberal, 25% is fiscally liberal and socially conservative, and 15% is socially liberal but fiscally conservative. In other words, nearly every other combination has nearly double their number and they are a uniquely uncommon combination. If you want to be somebody in politics, you need to ally with one of those larger groups. And when they make up the majority of your support base, who are you going to stick with?

      Then again, there never have been. I’ve only seen polls going back to the 1980s but the group never appears to have been large.

      Why aren’t there that many of them? Well, what the surveys show is that there just aren’t that many hardcore fiscal conservatives anywhere. The average Republican is closer to the center on economic issues than the average Democrat and there are many times over more socialists than AnCaps. If you were to shift economic issues so they were centered (rather than left skewed), libertarians would be roughly on par with the fiscally liberal and socially conservative. But I suppose this still doesn’t address why that is.

      One thing I’ve heard asserted is that social liberal plus fiscal conservative is the position that least allows for spoils in electoral victory. Basically, everyone is some form of fiscal liberal or social conservative because that justifies interventions that the person can find individually beneficial. I’m not sure I believe that though: surely there’s enough regulations for a libertarian movement to ax to last them at least a few lifetimes.

      My personal theory is that people tend towards a generally (forgive this word) conservative attitude as they get older. I don’t mean Republican, I mean that they become much less fond of grand societal projects. And during the period of life when they do (teenagers, young adults) they skew liberal and are more likely to end up in glorious socialist future land or Christian democracy types. Meanwhile, moderate libertarianism is very common and has been adopted by either party as convenient. The actual appellation libertarian is right wing generally but, to give an example, Joe Biden has talked about lowering economic barriers and rolling back certain regulations, particularly related to licensure or quality of life laws or other things that affect the poor. I suspect this isn’t just meant to differentiate him from Sanders: Trump is not a particularly libertarian figure and is somewhat vulnerable on that front.

      And to some extent, this is due to the bundling nature of the American party system. The two smaller quadrants are forced to cop to one of the larger ones. Another thing that’s long perplexed me is the absence of Christian Socialists (Europe’s most common form of social conservatives and economic liberals) in American politics. I doubt it’s a unique trait of American Christianity and I’ve always suspected it’s a big contributor to the relative success of anti-state forces in the US. Like, in many places you can be a conservative religious person and also support increasing the welfare state and have your party that supports that. In the US, you have to vote for issues like abortion if you want to vote for the pro-welfare party.

    • Milo Minderbinder says:

      Socially liberal values and conservative (assuming here to mean pro-market) financial values are both “elite” viewpoints, in that they are concentrated primarily among the educated. Protectionism and (de jure, if not always in practice enforced) morality laws are usually popular working/lower-class positions.

    • SamChevre says:

      I think at least part of the reason is that “socially liberal” has gotten less and less congruent with “diminish government power, especially of larger governments”. At the same time, “fiscally conservative” has gotten less conservative in the “don’t change existing social arrangements” definition. So both the libertine libertarians (arguing that self-ownership implies a right to self-harm) and the conservative libertarians (arguing that traditional liberties include the right to have voluntary relationships with some people, even if money is involved, without being required to offer them to everyone) found that they had less and less in common with a broad “social liberal, fiscally conservative” coalition.

      • albatross11 says:

        SamChevre: +1

        I support letting adults work out their own lives and choices as much as possible, including in sex, family arrangements, drug use, choice of what to read and write and say and listen to, religious beliefs, etc.

        There is a strong and loud contingent of current liberals who support people with minority sexual and family arrangement tastes, but they tend to want to mandate acceptance and positive interaction; the same subset argues for less freedom to say/listen to offensive things. This subset isn’t very large, but it’s massively overrepresented among elites in media and academia, which means it’s also quite influential.

        Further, lots of things that moderate libertarians like me care about (better oversight of the police, for example) are now pretty consistently wrapped up in a huge ideological package from that same small subset of the broad liberal movement, in ways that make it difficult for me to even make common cause with them a lot of the time. I mean, I’m 100% on board with meaningful civilian oversight of the police, independent investigation of police misconduct allegations by someone with some actual power to fire dirty cops, ending policing for a profit, etc. But most of the people with megaphones who want to talk about that stuff want to do it in the language of systems of white supremacy and structural oppression and similar ideological constructs that seem about as sound and meaningful, to me, as the doctrines of original sin and the immaculate conception seem to the average atheist.

        • thevoiceofthevoid says:

          +1 to you as well.

        • Garrett says:

          I’m fully on-board with this.

        • LadyJane says:

          But most of the people with megaphones who want to talk about that stuff want to do it in the language of systems of white supremacy and structural oppression and similar ideological constructs that seem about as sound and meaningful, to me, as the doctrines of original sin and the immaculate conception seem to the average atheist.

          I can get why that isn’t a turn-on, but is it really a big enough deal to be a turn-off?

          To take your analogy further, let’s say you’re an atheist living in 18th century Europe who’s also very strongly opposed to monarchism and feudalism. Unfortunately, there aren’t many other atheists around, so most of the anti-monarchy movements tend to center their arguments in Christian language: no one but God deserves to rule, all men are unfit for power due to the taint of Original Sin, everyone is considered an equal in Christ, and so forth. Would that make you suddenly start supporting the King and his Lords, or at least stop opposing them? Or would you still side with the anti-monarchists, even if you distanced yourself from all the Jesus stuff?

          • EchoChaos says:

            Or would you still side with the anti-monarchists, even if you distanced yourself from all the Jesus stuff?

            I mean, if you knew all the piles of skulls the anti-monarchists were about to accumulate, you might consider going with the monarchists, yeah.

          • DeWitt says:

            I mean, if you knew all the piles of skulls the anti-monarchists were about to accumulate, you might consider going with the monarchists, yeah.

            First off, you’re smart enough to know you’re not just missing her point, you’re not even trying to respond to it.

            Second, this argument proves a whole lot. Too much, even. If not, do tell why anti-monarchism has so uniquely bloody a history as opposed to any other part of the human race.

          • Theodoric says:

            If the anti-monarchist groups in your hypo require everyone to sign on to a Christian statement faith, I would be reluctant to join, especially if part of their doctrine was that people like me were more sinful than normal.
            If our monarchy has an elected parliament, and the anti-monarchist candidate is promising to completely remake society into a Christian commonwealth (which in this hypo I think would be bad), I would consider voting for the monarchist.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Yes, because all that stuff affects what will be done. A focus on social justice in policing means police abuses against white people won’t count, measures which don’t obviously disproportionately help black people will be looked on with suspicion, and if no racial issue is evident, either no effort will be spent on the problem or (more likely) all the effort will be spent trying to manufacture a racial issue to be solved, which will do little to nothing about real police abuse. The social justice stuff swallows the underlying issue completely.

          • quanta413 says:

            I can get why that isn’t a turn-on, but is it really a big enough deal to be a turn-off?

            For me in some but not all cases yes, because they often have a completely different idea of what an appropriate solution is.

            Some people interested in social justice causes have a less strong ideological view of things and are fairly flexible. If I was working with someone like that on some causes, that might work.

            But if the cure on offer looks likely to be worse than the disease I’ll stick with the disease. In many cases, social justice identified people are “cultural marxists” or even just plain “marxists”; even when they aren’t self-identified as such they tend to inherit enormous swathes of their intellectual worldview from professors who believed these sorts of things. Even if I didn’t know what was being proposed, that alone would make me consider running screaming the other way.

            It’d be like if a significant group of conservatives inherited large parts of their thought from monarchists or fascists. All I can say is thankfully neo-rxnaries (monarchists) and neo-nazis (fascists) not only have almost 0 political influence in the U.S. they haven’t given birth to any significant offshoots or twists either. They control 0 institutions and have no political capital to speak of. If those groups were at all a factor, I wouldn’t side with them or their intellectual descendants when I happened to agree with them either.

          • Clutzy says:

            To take your analogy further, let’s say you’re an atheist living in 18th century Europe who’s also very strongly opposed to monarchism and feudalism. Unfortunately, there aren’t many other atheists around, so most of the anti-monarchy movements tend to center their arguments in Christian language: no one but God deserves to rule, all men are unfit for power due to the taint of Original Sin, everyone is considered an equal in Christ, and so forth. Would that make you suddenly start supporting the King and his Lords, or at least stop opposing them? Or would you still side with the anti-monarchists, even if you distanced yourself from all the Jesus stuff?

            Your hypothetical analogy is wrong because its asking someone to weigh between two conservative stances (for the time) and side with one. Picking a side between two longstanding cultural institutions isn’t always easy, but its a choice where the choices are clear.

            What you are actually asking this person to do is choose between anti-monarchists and radical atheists. And neither has a track record. And he’s probably not an atheist, instead he’s a Ben Franklin type who flirts with Deism, but is nominally Christian because everyone is.

          • SamChevre says:

            If I were an atheist anti-Monarchist, I think I’d likely support Charles over Cromwell.

            For me, the race-based lenses are enough of a turn-off that I would be reluctant to side with those people other than tactically. I had an acquaintance shot by the police; he was white. If they have an encounter with the police, whites and blacks are equally likely to be shot–and that’s far too likely. A solution related to “hire more black police” just completely misses the point. A solution that is “just ignore crime” (like the amazing amount of objection to the NYC crackdown on fare evasion) is in my opinion destructive of community and public goods.

          • albatross11 says:

            Making common cause with people who preach social justice ideology of various kinds is still workable, but a lot of the stuff they’re trying to do to address problems we both agree need solving are driven by their ideology, and are IMO worthless or actively harmful.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Second, this argument proves a whole lot. Too much, even. If not, do tell why anti-monarchism has so uniquely bloody a history as opposed to any other part of the human race.

            How tightly are we defining “anti-monarchism”? Do people have to be explicitly thinking “This’ll show those darned monarchists” when they pull the trigger/stick the knife in/whatever, or does killing for a revolutionary ideology which includes anti-monarchism as part and parcel of it also count? Because if the latter, you’ve got all those communist and fascist regimes, and the body count does start to get rather large…

          • John Schilling says:

            I can get why that isn’t a turn-on, but is it really a big enough deal to be a turn-off?

            Yes, absolutely.

            I’m not sure how you don’t understand this, but consider the many US citizens who are first- and second-generation Hispanic immigrants. Who are for the most part devoutly religious social conservatives, and in many cases economic conservatives. And who mostly vote for Democratic candidates, on account of the language the GOP uses to talk about people like them(*).

            A few common object-level political goals don’t make up for language that casts my race, my gender, my neurotype, my creed, my culture, as the villains of the current order who are to be put in our proper place under the new order. I can do OK for myself under a Republican, even a Trumpist regime, and so I’m not going to be your ally against them so long as your team talks like this.

            * Conservatives, spare me the bit about how it’s only the illegal immigrants you care about. Even where that’s true, your tribe and party suck at making the distinction clear, in the same way that the progressives fail to make clear e.g. who exactly the Evil Patriarchy is.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            There’s a conventional saying about US politics which dates at least from the very first days of the culture wars, and may be older still: “People may vote for someone they don’t like, but they will never vote for someone who doesn’t like them.”

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I mean, if you knew all the piles of skulls the anti-monarchists were about to accumulate, you might consider going with the monarchists, yeah.

            The anti-monarchists had seen literally 10s of millions die in the 19th century thanks to monarchical indifference or malevolence. Leopold II alone was responsible for 1 – 15 million of these skulls.

          • BBA says:

            There were two “Reigns of Terror,” if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            I read that book in third grade and enjoyed it. 33 years later I couldn’t recognize the quote without googling. 🙂

            Thanks BBA.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @John Schilling

            And who mostly vote for Democratic candidates, on account of the language the GOP uses to talk about people like them(*).

            You have causation backwards. They mostly vote Democrat, therefore the GOP base (and 0% of the elites) talks like that about them.

            As evidence, George H.W. Bush got killed among Hispanics in 1992 before Prop 187, and coming off of a massive amnesty.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            They mostly vote Democrat, therefore the GOP base (and 0% of the elites) talks like that about them.

            “Therefore”? You make the connection sound like logical entailment, but to me it sounds more like petty spite. Voting for your opponents is something people are entitled to do; it’s not a character flaw.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Paul Zrimsek

            I mean, I don’t talk about them like that and I noted that basically no Republican elected officials do either (Trump is an exception here).

            But yes, if a bloc consistently votes against you, people from your bloc will insult them.

            Witness how acceptable redneck jokes are amongst educated Blue Tribers. Same exact reason.

            I am just pushing back against “Republicans said mean things about Hispanics, therefore Hispanics don’t vote for them”.

            The causation is backwards.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Yes, except not so much “turn-off” as “complete deal-breaker”. See cure, disease, worse than.

            And yes, to use a practical example, it’s enough to switch my vote away (and away permanently barring an active disavowal and reversal) from any political candidate who uses or makes active concessions to SJ ideological constructs as part of their platform/talking points, regardless of how much I might agree with their other stances or how much I dislike the other choices in that election. If that means there are no acceptable candidates, then I’ll stay home or spoil my ballot before I cast a vote for them.

          • DeWitt says:

            How tightly are we defining “anti-monarchism”? Do people have to be explicitly thinking “This’ll show those darned monarchists” when they pull the trigger/stick the knife in/whatever, or does killing for a revolutionary ideology which includes anti-monarchism as part and parcel of it also count? Because if the latter, you’ve got all those communist and fascist regimes, and the body count does start to get rather large…

            This is a really bad argument. It’s not quite on the same level as praising Rome for not having social media ruin the societal fabric or the Aztecs for never persecuting the Jews, but it’s an error of the same category all the same.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            This is a really bad argument. It’s not quite on the same level as praising Rome for not having social media ruin the societal fabric or the Aztecs for never persecuting the Jews, but it’s an error of the same category all the same.

            Plenty of monarchies survived well past the point where technology would have allowed them to become seriously nasty, had they wanted to.

            What prevented Nicholas II from racking up a Stalin-level body count? Technologically speaking, not a lot.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @EchoChaos

            I haven’t heard a Redneck joke since Jeff Foxworthy a couple of decades ago.

            Maybe its because I’ve been in the wrong parts of the country (West Coast and Rust belt).

            Do Democrats and democrat-leaners really make these jokes in places you are familiar with?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko

            Would this talking point turn you away?:

            It’s rude to call people names they are uncomfortable with (such as “Bertie” to a person named “Albert” who prefers “Al”, after those people have informed you of their preferred nickname.

            Likewise it’s rude to call people by a pronoun they are uncomfortable with, after those people have informed you of their preferred pronouns.

            We should call people out on being rude in order to stop them from habitually being rude. And if they keep insisting on their “right” to be consistently rude to someone, then we should consider being rude to them in return until they learn their lesson, or maybe even kicking them out of our group for their rudeness as a last resort.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @The original Mr. X

            What prevented Nicholas II from racking up a Stalin-level body count? Technologically speaking, not a lot.

            And given he was an absolute monarch, politically speaking not a lot either.

            Nicholas II’s own body-count was high enough. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_II_of_Russia#Russo-Japanese_War

          • EchoChaos says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            Different redneck jokes. Jeff Foxworthy, Jeff Dunham, Bill Engvall, etc are loving in-group jokes.

            I mean the “Alabamans screw their sisters” mean-spirited jokes. Go to Reddit anytime to see them.

          • John Schilling says:

            Would this talking point turn you away?:

            It’s rude to call people names they are uncomfortable with (such as “Bertie” to a person named “Albert” who prefers “Al”, after those people have informed you of their preferred nickname.

            Nicknames are pretty much always applied by outsiders, not chosen by the nicknamed. That’s particularly true if the nickname is meant to convey information about someone’s personality, status, relationships, etc. If you don’t like it, you can reasonably ask to be called by your proper name, but demanding another nickname is presumptuous and demanding a particular meaningful nickname is right out.

            If your friends chose to call you “Boss”, that’s a sign of respect on their part. If you demand that your friends call you “Boss”, that’s a sign of disrespect on your part.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @John Schilling

            Maybe for children, but once I became an adult new acquaintances generally asked me how I preferred to be called (given name or a particular nickname).

            I can count on one hand the number of people who assumed a common nickname. While the number of those who asked is far greater.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @EchoChaos

            I think it’s probably a bad idea to attribute general “tribal” attitudes to online happenings. Even the people who go online to vent (me, sometimes), often don’t act or even think that way in person.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Anonymous Skinner:

            Nicholas II’s own body-count was high enough. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_II_of_Russia#Russo-Japanese_War

            A tiny fraction of the numbers the Soviets killed.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            Proper names are simply in a different category than pronouns. Just because you can choose your preferred name doesn’t mean you can choose your pronoun.

            And even names have limits. If the former “Dave” wants to be called “Sue”, OK, he’s “Sue”. If he insists on being called “princess consuela banana hammock” in full, he’s probably going to be called “princess”, “banana-boy”, “Dave”, or possibly “Phoebe”.

          • Proper names are simply in a different category than pronouns.

            Yes.

            Calling me “Dave” instead of “David” does not imply a factual claim. Referring to me as “she” instead of “he” does. Demanding that other people make factual claims that they believe are false is a great deal ruder than asking them to use the version of your name you prefer.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @The Nybbler

            This is fundamentally about rudeness, not about choices.

            If someone says they didn’t like something that a person did to them, is that person justified in continuing to do that thing to them without being considered a rude jerk or asshole, and being treated as such?
            With very few exceptions, generally no.

            @Wannabe Squirrel Killer 😛 DavidFriedman

            I understand. Really, I do. Cognitive dissonance is no joke, and I believe people should be allowed to use circumlocutions (e.g. honorific + last name, in my comparison, such as Mr. Friedman) to avoid dissonance, until such a time, if ever, that they become comfortable using a person’s preferred pronouns or name.

            It does suck that gender and sex only have one set of pronouns among them in the English language.

            But ultimately these are just identifiers, not truth claims. I can call you Bill, and if you’re okay being called Bill, that isn’t a truth claim that your name is really Bill, it’s just something you’re okay being called. Likewise, if I call you “Boss”, this isn’t a truth claim about our relationship (or your name), it’s just a word I use to identify you and talk about you.

            Saying that your name is “Bill”, e.g “He is Bill” vs “I call him Bill”, is a truth claim.

          • CatCube says:

            @anonymousskimmer (ETA: I was working on this while you posted your above, and it was posted without seeing your post at 10:21)

            Likewise it’s rude to call people by a pronoun they are uncomfortable with, after those people have informed you of their preferred pronouns.

            That’s possibly the least convincing reason you could give. As a matter of fact, if that’s the main reason you give me, it’s actually anti-convincing.

            It’s “impolite” in the US military to leave the presence of a superior to whom you’ve reported without being dismissed–also particular ways to act and stand while reporting. It would have been “impolite” to not end a conversation in the 1930s Wehrmacht without “Heil Hitler!” It was “impolite” for a black slave in the antebellum south to not address his master, as, well, “master.”

            What do all of those have in common? “Politeness” demands that you acknowledge a particular world view (in these cases, a particular view of the correct power relationship in the society).

            If all you can tell me is “You have to use preferred pronouns because it’s ruuuude not to. You don’t want to be ruuuude, right?” then one of two things is happening:
            1) You’re too stupid to understand that you’re assuming your conclusions and making a demand on the other person that they may not support; or
            2) You do understand you’re assuming the conclusion and are trying to exert power to make somebody say something they don’t agree with. If you think this isn’t a problem, then I look forward to your support for making children say the Pledge of Allegiance (including “under God”) every morning–it’s just words, right?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            This is fundamentally about rudeness, not about choices.

            I’m talking about rudeness. To say something is “rude” is to assert that it breaks some social rule. I am asserting that there is no social rule that one gets to choose one’s own pronoun, though some are trying to establish such a rule.

            If someone says they didn’t like something that a person did to them, is that person justified in continuing to do that thing to them without being considered a rude jerk or asshole, and being treated as such? With very few exception, generally no.

            There is no such general rule. It is just as possible that the objection is rude as it is that the person ignoring it is.

          • brad says:

            As someone that’s I guess sort-of in the middle the “you are forcing me to lie about what I know is true in my soul!!!” claims strike as very similar in a lot of ways to “I am a they and if you use any other pronoun you are denying my personhood!!!” and both make me want to tell someone to get off my lawn (n.b. I don’t have a lawn.) My main reaction is disbelief/annoyance that this is where we are.

          • John Schilling says:

            If someone says they didn’t like something that a person did to them, is that person justified in continuing to do that thing to them without being considered a rude jerk or asshole, and being treated as such?
            With very few exceptions, generally no.

            I don’t like the fact that you are expressing disagreement with me here. And that’s not a rare thing, so it can’t fit into “very few exceptions”.
            Therefore, you are being an asshole and a jerk for disagreeing with me, and you should always agree with whatever I say in the future.

            Or, possibly, your original position was in error and people don’t have broad latitude to veto social conduct and communication on the simple basis of “I don’t like that”. Pick one. And it turns out that, just this once, if you pick the answer I don’t like you’re a jerk and an asshole by your standards and mine.

          • DeWitt says:

            Plenty of monarchies survived well past the point where technology would have allowed them to become seriously nasty, had they wanted to.

            What prevented Nicholas II from racking up a Stalin-level body count? Technologically speaking, not a lot.

            And plenty of non-monarchies have not, in fact, become that nasty. I live in one, many other westerners do, it’s a non-argument. ‘But Stalin’ is a ridiculous charge against systems other than monarchy. Compare ‘the rape of Nanking was very terrible, it was carried out by people who weren’t Muslims, therefor you should recite the Shahada right now.’ Absolutely bonkers.

            Which, even then, why are we comparing Stalin to Nicholas II again? omparing the very worst of the Tsars’ succesors with the last of that royal line doesn’t seem fair. The actual monarchist times, as we refer them by, had plenty of blood going on already, and this was in days without machine guns, atomic weapon, or merely just population censuses to systematically have your way with.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            This is actually in interesting example of the sort of package deal issue that started this, because in my mind a question like respecting a MtF woman or FtM man’s preference of pronouns should be separate from the sort of SJ ideological constructs like “structural *-ism”, “cis/het/white/male privilege”, etc. that Albatross was referring to.

            That said, speaking as someone who has actually had more time in long-term, committed relationships with trans individuals (male and female) than cis- ones, who has a non-trivial fraction of their friends who are trans and another fraction who fall into some portion of genderqueer or otherwise nonbinary/nonconforming sexual identiy, and who participates in a subculture where nonstandard pronouns are semi-common…

            …Yes, it would.

            For two reasons: First, because I think that is a somewhat disingenuous way of framing most of the public debates over the issues around trans rights (most of the prominent people objecting to things like the canadian speech codes have no intention of misgendering individuals they interact with). Second, because of the jump to “and therefore it’s ok to use mass public opinion to try and get people deplatformed/fired/etc”.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @John Schilling

            Congratulations, you found one of the “few exceptions”. Perhaps you are one of those rare people whose entire life is an exception? May it be exceptionally badass, and not exceptionally banal or bad!

            My mentioning “circumlocution” was an acknowledgement that interaction must be balanced between the desires of the parties (truly balanced, not “might makes right”). This is how both parties avoid being a jerk or asshole.

            @The Nybbler

            “Social” rules can suck it. Social rules are merely a subset of rules of human interaction. Rudeness pertains to human interaction, not that limited segment of human interaction known as social interaction.

            If it’s two people there’s no society to be social in.

            Ergo, in my mind at least, if one person is referring to one other person, this is not a social situation (though it may be embedded in a social situation). This is the interpersonal realm. And yet rudeness still pertains, and it may be more difficult to determine in advance what’s rude and what’s polite.

            On a personal note, socially I find it weird to call a group of women “guys”, but I’m getting used to it, and have fortunately not been in a position to have to refer to a group of women.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko

            Fair enough. I have no idea what the Canadian speech codes are about, but do personally have a problem with mandating speech (not forbidding certain speech, but actively mandating it, no exceptions allowed). And if this is what the Canadian speech codes seek to do, I can understand opposing supporters of them.

            I don’t like pile-ons either, and am glad to be a resident of California where political speech is at least nominally protected activity.

          • John Schilling says:

            Congratulations, you found one of the “few exceptions”. Perhaps you are one of those rare people whose entire life is an exception? May it be exceptionally badass, and not exceptionally banal or bad!

            If “people who disagree with each other and don’t like being disagreed with” is your idea of a “rare exception”, then I don’t think you’re using that phrase the way the rest of us are.

            And, you may believe that Sue-with-a-penis is a woman. Sue may believe this. Other people don’t. If it makes them assholes and jerks to speak words that express their disagreement with you, simply because it makes you and/or Sue feel bad, then it is just as much an asshole move for you to speak words that disagree with them. Or, it isn’t. For everyone, or no one.

          • Clutzy says:

            The trans side of the “rudeness” debate has me quite confused. Rudeness, as I understand it, has always been about saying that which would politely be left unsaid, or failing to do things that are basically free to do. Classic rudeness is an old drunk aunt pointing out her niece is a slut or failing to say hello/goodbye to a host.

            What is definitely not rudeness is failing to remember the name of a fellow student. And that is the closest analogy to misgendering in almost every case I’ve encountered.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Just don’t speak it to the person’s face, alright? Because speaking it to the person’s face (or behind their back when you know it can easily get back to them), is indeed rude.

            And it’s not being “rude” in the context of an argument or debate. It’s being rude by *starting* an argument or debate when they don’t want one.

            This goes for all sides.

            @Clutzy
            Yes, some people on the trans/non-binary side are also rude. Others just say “these are my preferred pronouns, please use them”.

            Farting is considered rude. This is why it’s polite to apologize for doing so in public.

            Ordering someone about is often considered rude , as is talking down to people (see the Away situation).

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ De Witt:

            And plenty of non-monarchies have not, in fact, become that nasty.

            So? Logically speaking, that’s a non sequitur. The existence of good non-monarchies does not in and of itself prove that anti-monarchism doesn’t have a bloody history, even a uniquely bloody one, since it might be that the bloody examples are sufficiently bloody to outweigh the nice examples.

          • DeWitt says:

            The burden of proof isn’t on me to prove that anti-monarchists are peaceful sorts, it’s on you to prove that they’re uniquely bloody. Once you do that, the burden of proof is also on you that all anti-monarchist movements are the same, rather than an array of movements that share one common identifier.

            Which, again, brings you to the point I made earlier – Japanese Buddhists being horrible to its enemies in WW2 is not a point in favor of Islam, or Christianity, or what have you. Stalin being terrible, likewise, is not a point in favor of monarchies.

          • Lambert says:

            I understand why there’s a limit on the depth of replies, but wow, this is a confusing republicanism/pronoun Frankenthread.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @anonymousskimmer

            Sorry, but if social rules can “suck it”, you have no appeal to rudeness. Rudeness is entirely about social rules; in some places I can go up to someone I know and say “Hey, you dumb cunt” and it’s extremely rude, and in others it’s just a common greeting. No social rules, no rudeness, and no complaint about pronouns. If there are universal rules of human interaction outside any social context, I feel certain pronouns aren’t specified in them.

          • If someone says they didn’t like something that a person did to them, is that person justified in continuing to do that thing to them without being considered a rude jerk or asshole, and being treated as such?

            Here “did to them” means “said certain words.”

            Suppose I argue that climate change is not a problem. Someone who thinks it is a very serious and dangerous problem and heard me responds that saying that what he is worried about is not a problem is being rude to him, so I should not express that belief, at least in his presence.

            Which of us is being rude?

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            Interpersonal rules are interior to social rules. These are the rules that spouses, for instance, negotiate between themselves. Likewise family members aren’t a social grouping, they’re another intimate grouping, with rules particular to themselves.

            “Social rules can suck it” to the extent that they should not be seen as the be-all and end-all of human interaction, when they are actually just a small part of day-to-day human interaction.

          • anonymousskimmer says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Suppose I argue that climate change is not a problem. Someone who thinks it is a very serious and dangerous problem and heard me responds that saying that what he is worried about is not a problem is being rude to him, so I should not express that belief, at least in his presence.

            I believe that someone needs a language lesson, or at least help finding the right word to express what it is they feel about your statement. Rudeness doesn’t seem applicable.

            Now if they said to you “I’m worried about climate change”, and you responded “Your worries are immaterial, climate change doesn’t matter”*, then you would be rude (by dismissing the other person’s worries without addressing the effect of those worries on the person). But if you said “I don’t think you need to worry, because for these reasons I believe climate change will not greatly negatively effect any of us or the broader world”**, you are not being rudely dismissive, you’re just disagreeing.

            Rudeness entails being dismissive in some way. Rudeness toward a person entails being dismissive to that person in some way. But you literally cannot be dismissive toward a person unless that person first signals something that you can dismiss.

            And to address your later point, when both parties have preferences there has to be an acknowledgement of the rights of both parties. It would be mildly to extremely rude to constantly bring up Climate change in the presence of this person, to constantly proselytize to them, for instance, but it would not be rude to have a conversation with a third party who wants to talk about climate change while in the presence of this person (though it may be nice to find a more private place to have this conversation). General rules for restraining orders should be a good enough proxy to follow on whether your talking about climate change is very rude, mildly rude, or not rude at all. (as in, restraining orders impose obligations on the restrainee and the restrainer, similar to the obligations of a protection from evil spell [Dungeons and Dragons]).

            * – Your preferred pronouns don’t matter, those born with an outie are always he/him/his.

            ** – “Pronouns should refer to the sex people were born with to minimize confusion, but people should also be treated as the individuals they are, with their individual gender preferences (how others treat them via expectations) acknowledged. Thus, I prefer to refer to you a ‘she’ who prefers to be treated as a man, or without use of pronouns at all.”

          • Clutzy says:

            @Clutzy
            Yes, some people on the trans/non-binary side are also rude. Others just say “these are my preferred pronouns, please use them”.

            Farting is considered rude. This is why it’s polite to apologize for doing so in public.

            Ordering someone about is often considered rude , as is talking down to people (see the Away situation).

            ???

            I am beginning to doubt your theory of social interaction. The last two examples you brought up, for example, are extremely common in polite company, and not thought of as rude. Indeed they are the common and expected stances of high society, particularly of women. The plantation owner’s wife’s mannerisms have been nearly 100% adopted by modern DC (and other big city) animals.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Interpersonal rules are interior to social rules. These are the rules that spouses, for instance, negotiate between themselves. Likewise family members aren’t a social grouping, they’re another intimate grouping, with rules particular to themselves.

            And yet you’re claiming this pronoun rule as an absolute, not a rule negotiated among groups much smaller than society. That doesn’t work. It’s either a social rule or it’s no rule at all.

          • Rudeness entails being dismissive in some way. Rudeness toward a person entails being dismissive to that person in some way.

            Using “he” when referring to someone biologically male who wishes to be treated as female isn’t dismissive, it’s simply disagreeing. One could be rude about it by including some insulting language in the use, but that isn’t a matter of gender choice.

            Using one rule without explanation is no ruder than using the other. If someone says “I prefer to be referred to as ‘she’,” without offering any further explanation, how is that less rude than someone else referring to that person as “he” without further explanation?

          • Clutzy says:

            Rudeness entails being dismissive in some way. Rudeness toward a person entails being dismissive to that person in some way. But you literally cannot be dismissive toward a person unless that person first signals something that you can dismiss.

            Another fundamental disagreement on social norms here. Dismissiveness is not an initial state for humans (mostly). Being dismissive is a reaction to encountering the same person (or argument) over and over again, and that person being generally intractable. For instance, my aunt always complains about the parents of her students. Her complaints are almost universally superficial and the kind of general annoyance every human in the world has to deal with, including me. Thus I have become dismissive of her complaints in this area. The same has happened in these other realms being discussed.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @DavidFriedman
            I think forgetting/misremembering someone’s name is a decent analogy for misgendering someone. The following is based on my interactions and conversations with trans friends and acquaintances, though the analogy is mine and not theirs.

            Incorrectly assuming someone’s gender if they didn’t clarify and no one told you is a faux pas on the order of calling someone “Miss” vs “Mrs.” incorrectly. Maybe a bit worse but still easily overlookable if you briefly apologize when corrected.

            Using the wrong pronoun by accident when you’ve been told the correct one, and catching yourself / apologizing when corrected is somewhat akin to forgetting or misremembering someone’s name. Again, a faux pas but easily overlooked if it doesn’t happen too regularly or at least the frequency decreases.

            To a trans person, though, intentionally using pronouns that they don’t prefer would be interpreted as a conscious dismissal of part of their identity. It might be comparable to repeatedly refusing to call someone by their name and instead using an insulting nickname that they’ve explicitly asked you not to call them. If you don’t see how it’s insulting, then consider just repeatedly calling someone by the wrong name, when you know what their name is–always calling Sam “Charlie”, e.g.

            ETA:

            Using “he” when referring to someone biologically male who wishes to be treated as female isn’t dismissive, it’s simply disagreeing.

            It’s disagreeing about an aspect of their identity. I think it’s clear how that’s less symmetric than positions on e.g. climate change.

          • It’s disagreeing about an aspect of their identity.

            Yes. And if you do disagree about that, you might choose not to mention the fact, but you aren’t obligated to.

            A closer analogy would be a person whose identity includes being an expert on subject X, where you know enough about subject X to be confident he isn’t. You might choose not to mention it, but you have no obligation to pretend to respect his opinion when you don’t.

            The main difference is that it is a good deal easier to avoid talking about subject X than to avoid using pronouns, so expecting someone to use the preferred pronouns that do not correspond to his view of the subject is more of an imposition than expecting him to respond to pontification on X by changing the subject instead of pointing out the six errors just made on the subject.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @DavidFriedman

            A closer analogy would be a person whose identity includes being an expert on subject X, where you know enough about subject X to be confident he isn’t.

            I understand that’s how you see the situation; according to your definitions of “man” and “woman”, a trans person is pretending to be something they’re not. But where you analogy fails is that you and the self-proclaimed expert would both agree on what it means to be “an expert on X”; you disagree on whether he meets those criteria (he thinks he has broad knowledge of the subject, you think he’s talking out of his rear). The disagreement’s on an objective fact of reality: whether or not he knows what he’s talking about. A consequence of that is that you can be objectively right

            In contrast, you and a trans woman probably agree on the objective facts of reality, but disagree on the definition of “woman”. You argue, “you’re clearly a man, you have [features associated with and implying the existence of] a Y chromosome.” They argue, “No, I’m a woman; I identify and present [to the best of my ability] as female.” The debate is over whether gender should be defined by biological sex or by self-identification, and since words are actually a social construct and there are large groups of people who use each definition, neither is objectively correct. So, you’re not having a factual disagreement, but a moral one: should we accept gender self-identification as valid? If you call a trans person by their preferred pronouns, you’re not denying the biological reality of their chromosomes/hormones/genitalia (which I think there’s a strong case for being none of your business); you’re just choosing not to include it as a factor in your definition of gender.

            Personally, I think that accepting trans people and redefining gender is the better moral choice. It makes a segment of people happier without major harm to others, besides the minor inconvenience of having to relearn a friend’s pronouns if they come out as trans. (As for all the horrors forecasted to befall us if we accept trans people…I elaborated my thoughts on many of them upthread.)

          • But where you analogy fails is that you and the self-proclaimed expert would both agree on what it means to be “an expert on X”

            Not necessarily. He may have a very much lower standard of expertise than I do.

            What, at only a slight tangent, is your view of the situation where a traditional Catholic is interacting with a man who has divorced and remarried. Is the Catholic obliged to refer to the woman married to the man as his wife, even though he believes that she isn’t?

          • John Schilling says:

            But where you analogy fails is that you and the self-proclaimed expert would both agree on what it means to be “an expert on X”; you disagree on whether he meets those criteria. The disagreement’s on an objective fact of reality: whether or not he knows what he’s talking about.

            In contrast, you and a trans woman probably agree on the objective facts of reality, but disagree on the definition of “woman”.

            The “expert on history” who thinks the American Civil War happened in the 17th century isn’t objectively wrong. He’s just defining “expert” as “someone who knows lots of interconnected factoids, regardless of how accurate they are”. Or he’s defining “17th century” as running from 1601-1865. It’s just a disagreement over definitions. Everything is just a disagreement over definitions, if we want it to be.

            The bit where one of these definitions is broadly useful to many people for many purposes, and the other is useful only for making a small idiosyncratic group feel better about themselves for a little while, that’s common to both sides of the analogy.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Not necessarily. He may have a very much lower standard of expertise than I do.

            I guess at the end of the day, I’m more willing to alienate the group “clueless self-proclaimed experts” than the group “gender-dysphoric people who would like to be addressed as a gender they were not born as”. Still, even in my interactions with the former I would try to frame my criticism as “I believe you’re mistaken about A, B, and C; perhaps you should do more research into those topics” rather than “You are not, and will never be, an expert on X!”

            What, at only a slight tangent, is your view of the situation where a traditional Catholic is interacting with a man who has divorced and remarried. Is the Catholic obliged to refer to the woman married to the man as his wife, even though he believes that she isn’t?

            If the traditional Catholic refers to women married in Jewish or Islamic or Hindu ceremonies (i.e. not in the Catholic sacrament of holy matrimony) as “wives”, then I think consistency dictates he should refer to the remarried couple as husband and wife as well. If he consistently uses “wife” to describe only those wedded lawfully in the Catholic Church, then refusing to acknowledge the new “marriage” will still create some social tension but at least be consistent with his use of the term elsewhere. In the latter case, I don’t expect him to maintain close friendships with anyone outside the Church, since conspicuously refusing to refer to the woman as the man’s wife will correctly be interpreted as a judgement that a core part of their lifestyle and identity is morally wrong. The Catholic may be perfectly happy with this state of affairs, but shouldn’t act surprised if he’s never invited to dinner with the couple.

            I think the crux of our disagreement is that I believe that accepting transgenderism as valid is a moral net positive, and you believe it’s a moral net negative. If I were convinced that accepting trans people’s redefinition of “gender” would be a net harm for society, it would follow that the the person asking me to regularly implicitly affirm a moral viewpoint I saw as harmful would be quite rude. However I currently side with the trans person, and thus think that the person “misgendering” is rude for repeatedly making an implicit moral claim that the transgender person’s identity is invalid.

            My advice for people who believe transgenderism is morally wrong but want to interact with trans people without initiating moral debates would be to strategically avoid gendered pronouns as inconspicuously as possible.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @John Schilling

            Everything can be a debate over definitions, if we pull a Humpty-Dumpty and start making absurd definitions for the sole purpose of a single argument. No one actually defines expertise as unrelated to accuracy of knowledge, or the 17th century as the period from 1601 to 1865. Some disagreements are over objective facts. The issue of transgender acceptance/rejection looks like it’s truly a definitional dispute, though.* About 44% of Americans define gender as something that can be different from sex at birth, while 54% say it’s determined by birth sex. Clearly, there are competing definitions used by segments of the population much larger than the number of people who actually identify as transgender.

            And yes, transgender people are a small group, but 1 in 200 people in the US is far from negligible.

            *At the surface level, at least. As I mentioned above I think the motivation to use one definition or the other is clearly a moral judgement. That in turn likely depends on your objective assessment of e.g. how likely it is that transgender-friendly bathroom policies will enable stalking or rape, as well as subjective moral weightings of e.g. how important it is to make minority groups feel accepted.

          • If the traditional Catholic refers to women married in Jewish or Islamic or Hindu ceremonies (i.e. not in the Catholic sacrament of holy matrimony) as “wives”, then I think consistency dictates he should refer to the remarried couple as husband and wife as well.

            I think you are mistaken. One of the Catholics here can correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding of Catholic doctrine is that marriage between non-Catholics is still legitimate marriage, marriage after divorce is not.

          • Dacyn says:

            @DavidFriedman: That’s correct. (Not Catholic anymore but still know their doctrine. Incidentally, according to said doctrine I am still a Catholic. Catholic doctrine is kind of weird about these things.)

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            I think you are mistaken. One of the Catholics here can correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding of Catholic doctrine is that marriage between non-Catholics is still legitimate marriage, marriage after divorce is not.

            Ah, fair enough. I think my point that
            “…conspicuously refusing to refer to the woman as the man’s wife will correctly be interpreted as a judgement that a core part of their lifestyle and identity is morally wrong.”
            still holds, and is pretty directly analogous to the transgender/pronoun situation.

          • John Schilling says:

            No one actually defines expertise as unrelated to accuracy of knowledge,

            Give it time. It wasn’t that long ago that nobody actually defined gender as unrelated to genitalia, and the set of Dunning-Kruger victims who would feel better if we all called them experts is much larger than the set of gender-dysphoria sufferers.

          • Ah, fair enough. I think my point that
            “…conspicuously refusing to refer to the woman as the man’s wife will correctly be interpreted as a judgement that a core part of their lifestyle and identity is morally wrong.”
            still holds

            “Conspicuously” does a lot of the work there. Making a point of it not only implies the judgement, it implies wanting to tell them the judgement.

            If the Catholic believes that the couple’s lifestyle is wrong, that they are living in sin, does he have an obligation to conceal that belief, to pretend to the opposite? That’s the equivalent of expecting someone who views a person as male to use female pronouns in referring to that person.

          • Dacyn says:

            @thevoiceofthevoid: I think the concept of “intuitively thinking of someone as a man/woman” basically means the same thing to both sides of the debate. And using gendered pronouns is arguably a claim that you think of someone a certain way. Indeed, this is the reason many trangender people prefer certain pronouns: they prefer people to think of them in a certain way.

            You can argue that one should make an effort to reconceptualize someone, but this is asking quite a lot of someone for what purports to be a rule about social politeness. We don’t control how we conceptualize people’s genders directly, and in any case a certain conceptualization may just not be consistent with how we want our mindspace organized. (Claims of innate gender can be interpreted in this way: some prefer a way of thinking that’s more based on the underlying biology.)

            My advice for people who believe transgenderism is morally wrong but want to interact with trans people without initiating moral debates would be to strategically avoid gendered pronouns as inconspicuously as possible.

            And both me and DavidFriedman follow this rule, as discussed in the (mistakenly split) thread below. So at least that is a point of agreement.

          • thevoiceofthevoid says:

            @DavidFriedman

            “Conspicuously” does a lot of the work there. Making a point of it not only implies the judgement, it implies wanting to tell them the judgement.

            Correct. That’s why I think that using non-preferred pronouns is incredibly rude, but attempting to avoid pronouns altogether is not.

            If the Catholic believes that the couple’s lifestyle is wrong, that they are living in sin, does he have an obligation to conceal that belief, to pretend to the opposite? That’s the equivalent of expecting someone who views a person as male to use female pronouns in referring to that person.

            The Catholic and the…biological sex fundamentalist? Is that a fair term? have a similar trilemma: Be rude, lie*, or evade. The decision will depend on how much you care about avoiding offending people vs. staying true to your beliefs vs. avoiding awkward circumlocution. I’d generally advise against “rude”, but I definitely wouldn’t say “lie” is obligatory.

            I think @Dacyn has it about right:

            Using gendered pronouns is arguably a claim that you think of someone a certain way. Indeed, this is the reason many transgender people prefer certain pronouns: they prefer people to think of them in a certain way. You can argue that one should make an effort to reconceptualize someone, but this is asking quite a lot of someone for what purports to be a rule about social politeness.

            I guess I just find that the reconceptualization, mentally taxing as it can be, is worth it. For friends who come out as trans, their friendship is worth enough to me to outweigh the inconvenience. And for trans people I meet for the first time, I haven’t yet had the chance to solidify my concept of their gender, so it just doesn’t seem that taxing to me. However:

            We don’t control how we conceptualize people’s genders directly, and in any case a certain conceptualization may just not be consistent with how we want our mindspace organized. (Claims of innate gender can be interpreted in this way: some prefer a way of thinking that’s more based on the underlying biology.)

            My main objection to that line of argument is that I personally really don’t feel like I lost anything by abandoning the “underlying biology” mindset. What advantage do I preserve by insisting on defining gender by someone’s genitals or chromosomes?

            *”Imply or profess a moral view that opposes their real view” is more accurate but less snappy.

        • Dacyn says:

          I don’t like using pronouns that imply truth claims I’m skeptical of, and I also don’t like making truth claims contrary to what others believe if I don’t have to (assuming they’re unlikely to want to engage with the disagreement at that point), which is why I tend to use “they” when such situations arise, as it does not imply any truth claim at all.

          @brad: But the situations are not in fact symmetric, as one person is merely refusing to do something while another is insisting that someone else do something.

          • which is why I tend to use “they” when such situations arise, as it does not imply any truth claim at all.

            Whereas I try to avoid the use of pronouns in such contexts, because “they” for a singular subject offends my view of the logical consistency of language—whether or not people have been doing it for a very long time.

          • brad says:

            Yes, they are different. Not two things are ever exactly alike. But I think they are similar in important ways. Specifically, I think they are symptoms of a certain kind of extreme narcissism.

            Sometimes norm violators are doing heaven’s work, but most of the time they aren’t. I’m very comfortable with a heavy, but irrebuttable, presumption that norm violations ought to be socially sanctioned.

          • Dacyn says:

            Look, trans people who ask others to use their preferred pronouns are often doing that because it hurts them to hear what they view as the wrong pronouns. I don’t see how it’s narcissistic to not want people to hurt you. Conversely, I don’t see how having free speech values (i.e. not wanting your speech to be coerced) is reflective of narcissism.

            And our culture as a whole doesn’t have strong norms about either of these things, it’s only the subcultures/tribes that do. So the people we’re discussing are not necessarily norm violators.

          • brad says:

            Ugh. I need to proofread better.

            Not two things -> No two things
            but irrebuttable -> but not irrebuttable

          • Sometimes norm violators are doing heaven’s work, but most of the time they aren’t. I’m very comfortable with a heavy, but irrebuttable, presumption that norm violations ought to be socially sanctioned.

            Does that apply to the very old norm that biological males wear clothing consistent with what their society expects males to wear? The very strong norm that biological males do not go into places reserved for females, such as a woman’s room or women’s changing room?

            You seem to be only applying it to the recently invented norm holding that people are to treated as having the gender they claim instead of their biological gender.

          • I don’t see how it’s narcissistic to not want people to hurt you.

            You are defining “hurt” to include “hear people say things you don’t want them to say.”

            By that standard, any time A makes an argument and B provides a convincing refutation, B is hurting A.

          • Dacyn says:

            No, I mean that it causes them (mental) pain in a way that hearing an argument you don’t like doesn’t. This is an empirical question, you can investigate it for yourself.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Dacyn

            No, you can’t, because “mental pain” is subjective experience which we have no way to measure.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I have, when very engaged in an online debate, sometimes physically felt pain in my head when someone tore my argument apart. I am sure a monitoring device would detect something.

            (This is my sign I am getting Too Online and need to log off.)

          • Dacyn says:

            @The Nybbler: The experience still exists, so it can have effects on the world. You can talk to someone who claims to have such an experience, and get a sense for whether you think they are lying or mistaken. It’s not perfect, but it’s more information than not going out and talking to anyone. Specifically, it is more information on the topic than I would be able to provide, beyond what I have already said.

            @Edward Scizorhands: Perhaps I should have said “usually” regarding people not liking to be disagreed with. In any case, I don’t think people who don’t like disagreement are narcissistic either.

          • brad says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Does that apply to the very old norm that biological males wear clothing consistent with what their society expects males to wear? The very strong norm that biological males do not go into places reserved for females, such as a woman’s room or women’s changing room?

            Sure. My original post was in both directions. Like I said, I’m open to being convinced but by and large I’m in favor of the feelings of the community over radical individualism. At least when it comes to social sanctions and not legal ones.

          • Sure. My original post was in both directions.

            So you are “very comfortable with a heavy, but irrebuttable [should that have been “rebuttable” or “not irrebuttable”?], presumption that” biological males who wear dresses “ought to be socially sanctioned”?

          • brad says:

            @David Friedman
            Sorry for the typos, tried to correct them here:
            https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/12/04/open-thread-142-25/#comment-828037

            As to your question, where the norm still exists–yes that’s my prior. It certainly makes me a little uncomfortable when someone that’s obviously a man physically dresses like a woman. But as I personally move in social circles where the norm is now to pretend not to notice, that’s what I do.

            Were I to be in places where the old norm ruled, I’d have to decide how to react. Probably it would depend in part on my subjective interpretation of the motives involved.

            To be clear, I’m not saying that conformity is the highest value or that the masses should always triumph. But I think the balance lies closer to that then where we are now.

          • Dacyn says:

            @brad: I think in practice people do modulate themselves quite a bit to local norms. If they sufficiently dislike those norms, they’re often just uncomfortable and try to avoid saying much of anything, and then they return to their bubbles and don’t come back again (or move to California or whatever). But people also like arguing about which subculture has the better norms, even if they don’t interact with the opposing norms much personally.

    • brad says:

      Do you take “fiscal conservative” to mean balanced budgets, low spending, low taxes, or all three? Is low regulation also necessary?

      • gbdub says:

        I would think, to call yourself fiscally conservative, supporting the first three are basically necessary (or at least, supportive of pushing things in that direction). Not sure about the fourth. A government narrowly focused on enforcing fairly strict economic regulations might still be small, low tax, and balanced.

        But in practice the “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” person probably gets there via a general belief in personal liberty, including economic, and thus almost certainly prefers government to be generally laissez faire

    • Thomas Jorgensen says:

      Fiscal conservative is the deservedly dead part, because in practice it means “I hate deficits” and thus amounts to sabotaging the entire damn economy, MMT being correct, and the austrian school wrong about everything.

      If there were a…. “better spending”? school of political thought – that is, a stance that goes “i will save money so I can immediately turn around and spend it elsewhere”, that would probably be pretty popular, but the political stance that has the pretty darn reliable outcome of “more unemployment” is not ever going to get traction, and it damn well should not.

      • MMT being correct, and the austrian school wrong about everything.

        Putting it that way makes it sound as though those two represent the views of most economists. I would have said that both were relatively fringe groups, visible mostly because of their disagreement with most of the rest of the profession.

        Your view makes it sound as though MMT is just a rebranded version of 1960’s Keynesianism, at least in its popular version.

        • Thomas Jorgensen says:

          The austrians are fringe, but they are the intellectual foundation of the “DEFICITS BAD” crowd, so quite politically relevant. This is also why I so flippantly go “wrong about everything”. People have tried their policy perscriptions, and the results were horrible.

          MMT is also likely to become politically important, despite also being fringe, because it is very actionable, and it provides a coherent intellectual framework for things politicians already want to do. It goes beyond just “Keynes” mostly by having an actual program for how to bring about the withering of the financial rentier class.

          • The austrians are fringe, but they are the intellectual foundation of the “DEFICITS BAD” crowd, so quite politically relevant.

            Nonsense.

            The major attack on the Keynesian orthodoxy of the sixties, one of whose tenets was that running deficits was the way to hold down unemployment, another that having inflation was (the Phillips curve), came from the Chicago school monetarists, who were not and are not Austrians.

        • broblawsky says:

          @DavidFriedman What is your position on MMT, anyway? I find it harder and harder to argue against, these days.

          • I haven’t paid a lot of attention to it—my interests are not in macro—but in the strong form that gets a lot of attention, which appears to hold that the government can run deficits financed by the printing press forever with no problems, I don’t think it makes any sense at all. There are probably more reasonable versions that are more defensible.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            That is not the holding of even the strongest version. What MMT says is that governments – and the economy in general – are constrainted not by budgets of imaginary numbers, but by budgets of people, steel and land.
            As long as you still have people going unemployed who could potentially be drawn into the work force, you can raise the level of the real economy by creating more money out of thin air and using that new money to employ them, and this will create very little-to-no inflation, as long as the new task you are putting them to is actually-productive.
            …. which is also a difference from Keynes, MMT implies that make-work is bad, in that it is inflationary.

          • broblawsky says:

            @DavidFriedman That’s fair. I’m not naturally inclined to want to believe in MMT, but I increasingly find there’s no other model that explains why inflation remains so persistently low in the US with such high budget deficits and such an obvious lack of will in restraining federal expenditures in the future. According to conventional monetary theory, we should have high inflation right now, and yet we don’t. I realize that you’re uninterested in macro, but do you have any thoughts on this?

          • Clutzy says:

            I would plant my “no inflation” mystery flag on a few things, all of which probably contribute in small amounts.

            1. Supply chain innovations masking inflation by reducing the cost of goods at almost the same speed.

            2. International demand for Dollars/Euros because of globalization, and the fact that almost every other currency in the world sucks.

            3. Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.

          • Ketil says:

            That is not the holding of even the strongest version. What MMT says is that governments – and the economy in general – are constrainted not by budgets of imaginary numbers, but by budgets of people, steel and land.

            Is this really controversial?

            As long as you still have people going unemployed who could potentially be drawn into the work force, you can raise the level of the real economy by creating more money out of thin air and using that new money to employ them,

            Clearly. From a market perspective, unemployed are free dollar bills on the pavement, and industry should pick them up. There may be reasons why it doesn’t.

            The below is almost certainly very simplistic, and quite possibly wrong – corrections welcome:

            As you say, the economy is about the resources. Resources can be used by private industry to build a factory, or by government to build a hospital.

            For the latter to happen (in a market economy), government needs money to purchase the resources, and it can raise money in three ways:

            – printing
            – taxes
            – loans

            If the value of money is equal to the amount of money to the value of resources, printing money will drive inflation unless it also generates comparable value. Taxes makes private industry less profitable, and usually leads to a less efficient private sector (i.e. less resources produced). Loans are better in that they are voluntary, and thus government will use resources that currently serve no better purpose, but incurs future obligations to lenders.

          • Cliff says:

            I increasingly find there’s no other model that explains why inflation remains so persistently low in the US with such high budget deficits and such an obvious lack of will in restraining federal expenditures in the future. According to conventional monetary theory, we should have high inflation right now, and yet we don’t.

            Pretty simple actually. The Fed controls the rate of inflation, so it’s where they set it. When inflation increases they tighten the money supply and inflation falls.

            BTW budget deficits have been pretty level at around 3% of GDP.

          • @Broblawsky:

            There is no reason why budget deficits have to create inflation–bonds are not money. My understanding is that the Fed has been creating base money but then borrowing it back, since they now pay interest on bank reserves.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I still read econ blogs from a pretty diverse spectrum and still follow a diverse set of economists on Twitter, and none have high academic praise for MMT. A major complaint is that it is hard to even pin down what MMTers believe: Krugman says arguing with MMTers is basically like playing Calvin-ball. That’s from a lot of economists from a lot of different sides.

            OTOH, MMTers agree on the current substantive policy issues with more traditional economists, and they aren’t austerity hawks, so most of the center-left economists (that I follow) don’t have a HUGE problem with them.

          • Corey says:

            @Clutzy: My pet/crank theory on low inflation is that labor has lost bargaining power below a critical threshold, so we can’t have the wage half of the wage/price increase spiral you need for serious inflation.

          • John Schilling says:

            What MMT says is that governments – and the economy in general – are constrained not by budgets of imaginary numbers, but by budgets of people, steel and land.

            Strong MMT also says, or at least implies, that the supply side of these budgets are essentially fixed – same number of people, same amount of steel and land, and for that matter that the people’s productivity and the land’s level of development are constant(*). That the question is simply one of allocating these resources as we see fit, with the markets being the best way to do this but with MMT enabling the state to get whatever result it wants from that market.

            This is false, and actual implementation of Strong MMT is going to result in a sudden “Wow, where did all my people and steel go and why is the land all overgrown?”

            * More precisely, constant unless we e.g. allocate some of our steel to build more steel mills, in which case it grows slowly.

          • John Schilling says:

            I’m not naturally inclined to want to believe in MMT, but I increasingly find there’s no other model that explains why inflation remains so persistently low in the US with such high budget deficits and such an obvious lack of will in restraining federal expenditures in the future.

            The standard inflation indexes don’t consider price inflation in investment goods. If the P:E ratio of the Dow and S&P doubles, and the price-to-rent ratio of the real estate market doubles, there’s no “inflation”. But this is not infinitely sustainable, because as the price of investment goods increases relative to consumption goods, so does the number of people who realize that by selling off their investment goods they can live like kings for the rest of their days.

            So long as the Baby Boomers are still working, you can pump an awful lot of cash into the economy and have it show up as investment-good price increases rather than consumer-good price increases. No “inflation”, but how many times have we heard that it’s impossible for even upper-middle-class tech workers to actually buy Bay Area homes that professors and even Plumbers could afford a generation ago?

            The median Boomer retired last year. Enjoy.

          • Aftagley says:

            @John Schilling

            Just so I’m working through the implications, you’re suggesting that the value of everyone’s investments (basically the giant pool of money we’re hoping keeps the boomers fiscally solvent throughout their 30ish years of economically unproductive retirement) has quietly been having it’s purchasing power eroded? It also implies we won’t be able to figure out exactly how much this purchasing power has been shrunk by until they start trying to cash out?

            If this is true, my guess is that this will either result in a massive devaluing of people’s investments or a sudden spike in inflation.

            I find this theory compelling and it think explains a terrifying amount about the shape of the economy over the last 10 years. Under this framework, why shouldn’t people try to cash out as soon as possible (AKA now)?

          • John Schilling says:

            Just so I’m working through the implications, you’re suggesting that the value of everyone’s investments (basically the giant pool of money we’re hoping keeps the boomers fiscally solvent throughout their 30ish years of economically unproductive retirement) has quietly been having it’s purchasing power eroded? It also implies we won’t be able to figure out exactly how much this purchasing power has been shrunk by until they start trying to cash out?

            Right. The shift from “the biggest, richest segment of society is saving its extra cash” to “the biggest, richest segment of society is cashing out to pay its living expenses” will pretty much by definition erode everyone’s purchasing power. By how much, is incalculable – but given the sums involved, I don’t think it will be small.

          • pqjk2 says:

            Right. The shift from “the biggest, richest segment of society is saving its extra cash” to “the biggest, richest segment of society is cashing out to pay its living expenses” will pretty much by definition erode everyone’s purchasing power. By how much, is incalculable – but given the sums involved, I don’t think it will be small.

            Do you mind if I ask what (if any) strategies you are using in response to this belief?

          • John Schilling says:

            Do you mind if I ask what (if any) strategies you are using in response to this belief?

            Roughly speaking, 1/3 in cash equivalents, 1/3 in US value stocks, and 1/3 in foreign value stocks – with the stocks weighted towards companies that manufacture things that people are going to buy nigh unto the apocalypse (i.e. generic drugs) and whose gross revenues should thus approximately track with inflation.

            Also a non-trivial amount of literal cash, physical gold, canned food, etc, but not to fanatical levels. And I own rather than rent, with a low-interest mortgage for another ten years or so.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            MMT: A primer, and a few common misconceptions.

            Holding the first: The money supply is always set by the government. Governments that operate without understanding this (.. which currently means “all of them”), will get money supply right only by serendipity, or by following ad-hoc rules that happen to give the right results within certain general conditions. This creates inflation – when the supply is too high – or unemployment when the supply is too low. Money flows into existence when the government spends it, it departs existence when the government taxes it. Taxes to not finance spending, they are a control on the money supply, and should be set accordingly.

            Very important collary which I do not see very many people grasp:

            This is not a recipie for an out of control state, or whatever other communist dystopia you are imagining. MMT is not Left. Or Right.

            It is a description of what money is, and where it comes from. Even the most minarcist state imaginable will be controlling the money supply in this manner, regardless of whether it realizes it or not and in fact, a solid implementation of MMT driven policy would make a very small state far more politically stable, because of implication the second:

            Implication the second: The “natural” rate of unemployment is zero. If anyone is unemployed for any reason other than being either idle rich, or currently riding their bike from the sea-steading yards to the space port, this is because there is not enough money in the system to mobilize all available resources and execute all desired trades, and this is entirely due to bad money supply management.

            This means that a nation that *does* understand money managment does not need most of the welfare state, because everyone will be making their own damn money.

            The reserve army of labor, and the consequently arising welfare state are the children of our lacking understanding of proper policy. This is the step where most economists stop understanding things, because you know that old saying about how it is difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on not understanding it?

            The ability of most economists to look themselves in the mirror, ever again, depends on their not understanding this point. Western monetary policy has been incredibly bad ever since the oil crisis*, leading to literally millions upon millions of person-years of suffering, loss of dignity and death. That is why MMT gets called calvin ball.

            Because anyone who is actually an economist is going to flinch, and flinch hard from touching this live wire of understanding.

            Other implications: The state should never, ever pay interest on bonds. Because bonds are only ever issued as a service to the private financial sector – a large scale secure savings account, they are not a service to the state, and the state paying people for doing them a service is just nonsensical.

            *Re: The oil crisis. The point here is that the west, collectively and abruptly acquired a vast rentier class it suddenly had to support out of its real production. This meant less real wealth to go around, not because of less production, but because it was literally being loaded onto freighters and sent to OPEC. Thus inflation shock. There was no correct response to this, but contracting the money supply, which is what we did, made things actively worse.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            Other implications: The state should never, ever pay interest on bonds. Because bonds are only ever issued as a service to the private financial sector – a large scale secure savings account, they are not a service to the state, and the state paying people for doing them a service is just nonsensical.

            The coupon rate on government bonds is close to irrelevant, since they are initially sold at auction. The quoted theory predicts that the bonds will sell at enough of a premium to reduce their yield to zero or less. They do not.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Because our money supply is managed by people who fundamentally do not understand what they are doing, and they think they have to sell enough bonds to cover the governments outlays. Which is the wrong amount.
            According to MMT, treasuries are just a safe place for people to park large amounts of money. If that is a service you feel it is appropriate for the state to provide (..and frankly, my gut instinct is “Why the heck are we even doing this at all”, but okay, just ending that tradition entirely is probably needlessly disruptive for something which can be managed by a handful of civil servants), you auction off bonds until you run out of people willing to take them at zero percent interest. Then you dont issue any more.

          • John Schilling says:

            Because our money supply is managed by people who fundamentally do not understand what they are doing, and they think they have to sell enough bonds to cover the governments outlays.

            Our money supply is managed by people who have done a fairly good job of meeting their explicit targets (e.g. a ~2% inflation benchmark), and the biggest failures that can plausibly be laid at their feet are still small compared on the scale of economic catastrophes in general.

            You, on the other hand, are a guy on the internet spouting theories backed by other guys on the internet whose track record in managing anyone’s money supply is, OK, help me out here, where should I be looking for that?

            So, why should I take your word for it that they don’t know what they are talking about, rather than their word (and the words of most economists, and my own considered opinion) that you don’t know what you are talking about?

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            The government doesn’t control the money supply, it indirectly affects the money supply. What the government controls is the monetary base, but that’s a modern development. In the past, people used barter or used alternative currencies due to poor money management or a shortage of specie.

            This is important, because the corollary “unemployment should be zero” was tried, tested, and found wanting, which created two generations of economists who are incredibly hawkish. If anything, overly hawkish, which is why center-left economists, and certain center-right economists, aren’t really interested in picking fights with MMT, because they are pushing the Overton Window towards more dovish policies.

            This will change fast if we ever try to target 0% unemployment, because that’s going to turn into a disaster, really quickly, and if you try pushing it when you run into disaster, you will lose ALL control of the money supply when your citizens decide to start using Yen or RMB because Occasio-Cortez torpedoed 2 centuries of solid monetary management in order to fund Green New Deal.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            According to MMT, treasuries are just a safe place for people to park large amounts of money.

            I suspect you may be mixing up the descriptive part of MMT with the prescriptive part. If the government were to adopt the MMT program, and were (for whatever reason) to continue selling bonds, then those bonds might become just a safe place to park money. (Of course the auction structure would have to go away: the Treasury would now effectively be offering zero-coupon bonds at par, on a take-it-or-leave-it basis– and likely getting no takers.)

            But it does not at all follow that this is an accurate description under the status quo, under which the government has decided, for better or worse, to fund its deficits by selling bonds. Given that decision, the Treasury is (apart from the absence of credit risk) a borrower like any other, neither the bonds nor the interest on them constitute a favor to anyone, and the interest on them is an inducement the government has to offer in order to sell them.

          • This creates inflation – when the supply is too high – or unemployment when the supply is too low.

            Are you talking about level or rate of change, and is “too high/low” defined on some fixed standard or relative to expectations? Inflation isn’t high prices but rising prices.

            Even the most minarcist state imaginable will be controlling the money supply in this manner, regardless of whether it realizes it or not

            So 18th century Scotland, with privately issued money, was more minarchist than the most minarchist state?

            MMT makes less sense to me after reading your description than before.

          • Ketil says:

            @Thomas Jorgensen

            Thanks for the clarification. Some follow-up questions:

            Money flows into existence when the government spends it, it departs existence when the government taxes it. Taxes to not finance spending, they are a control on the money supply, and should be set accordingly.

            This seems to me more a matter of definition, whehter you consider money “held” by the government to exist of not. In any case, it boils down to the change in amount of money being the difference between taxes and government spending.

            BTW: how does loans affect this? If the government borrows money, does it still exist?

            Even the most minarcist state imaginable will be controlling the money supply in this manner,

            Assuming the state is an entity that controls money? So EU countries that use the Euro are not “states”, and lower levels governments (e.g. cities) are not “states” either. And what about economies where a foreign currency is the hard one?

            Implication the second: The “natural” rate of unemployment is zero. If anyone is unemployed […] this is because there is not enough money in the system

            I’m pretty sure there is a diminishing returns effect, so to employ the last (extremely lazy, stupid, difficult, and incompetent) person would take an infinity of money. Which would cause inflation.

            So while it intuitively makes sense to me that getting people into employment is good, and that fiscal policy (increasing money) can help, it is not clear that only zero employment is tolerable.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Sure, there are people who are effectively unemployable. However, and this is not MMT, this is just having been around the sun a couple of times and kept notes… People are just incredibly prone to just world thinking when it comes to the unemployed. French Army currently occupying the coal mines of the Ruhr? The German steel worker is a feckless brute who is clearly unemployed due to the deficits of his character! And so on, and so forth. And when the tides of the economy shift, and suddenly which ever group would never again find employment do, in fact, suddenly find jobs? Nobody ever seems to take note that the previous argument was complete bullshit, and you should not listen to it the next time around.

            Except like a complete loon, I do take literal notes on these things.

            More generally, the post ww2 era had 30 years where everyone in the west who wanted a job and showed up to the interview, you know, wearing clothes and not picking a literal fight with the interviewer could generally have one, and that did not bring about hyperinflation.

      • albatross11 says:

        My sense is that confident assertions about the correctness of macroeconomic theories have approximately the same track record as confident assertions about the correctness of a new proposed scheme for consistently winning when betting on horse races.

      • FormerRanger says:

        This is more than somewhat overstating the case. I agree with Krugman (and many other economists) that figuring out what MMT is is like nailing jello to a wall. Lots of motte and bailey arguments are used. “Vulgar MMT” is: you can spend all the money you want to spend, and there are plenty of people who describe programs that will spend money far beyond the “elite MMT” definition, which is that individual budgets constrain how much can be spent without triggering inflation.

    • meh says:

      Mike Bloomberg did win 3 elections in NY. My theory is that the stance is not as unpopular as you think. Maybe they are ‘despised by all *sides*’, but that still leaves the center.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Bloomberg is not fiscally conservative but socially liberal. He’s straight up authoritarian. His view of governing is to figure out what makes people’s lives a little happier or a little more tolerable, and then take it away. Smokes, guns, vapes, soda, and salt, for instance, but I’m sure there’s other things.

        • meh says:

          i must be special, ive never had a problem getting soda salt or smokes.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Fortunately Bloomberg’s success has been limited.

          • meh says:

            Are you of the opinion that any taxation is authoritarian?

          • DeWitt says:

            I mean, any taxation is authoritarian. So is sentencing thieves to prison and bringing in men with guns if he decides not to comply. It’s a question of degree, not kind.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            any taxation is authoritarian. So is sentencing thieves to prison and bringing in men with guns if he decides not to comply. It’s a question of degree, not kind.

            +1

    • Clutzy says:

      I think the libertarian movement naturally lends itself to schisms.

      I think the most recent one happened to create 4 groups:

      Gary Johnsonites – Kinda moderate, willing to accept and even advocate for a lot of progressive social policies that go beyond leaving people alone. Bloomberg is like a more lefty version of this. These people are rare because, frankly, The Aleppo moment wasn’t even in the top 10 of embarrassing things Johnson did in 2016.

      Open Borders Purists – These are single issue libertarians, basically. These also happen to be people who hold a lot of positions at Cato, Reason, etc.

      Ex-Friedmanists: Libertarians who used to go around saying, “you can’t have open borders and a welfare state.” Legitimately believing you could eliminate the welfare state, then open the borders. Most have slowly abandoned hope on part 1, and see part 2 as threatening part 1 because of voting patterns, etc. This is probably the largest group, but also the group with few Koch fellowships.

      Purists: They still stick to the platform. Not many left, but they are there, and are mostly educated, but not members of the media, more often professors or just people with jobs.

      • Open Borders Purists – These are single issue libertarians, basically. These also happen to be people who hold a lot of positions at Cato, Reason, etc.

        I don’t think one can describe Bryan Caplan, the obvious example, as a single issue anything.

        • Clutzy says:

          I wasn’t referring to Caplan. In fact, my mind went to Ilya Somin, who, IMO would trade anything for open borders. He’d nationalize 50% of the economy and bring back the British Monarchy for open borders.

          But also, with Caplan, I think he would also abdicate any of his other positions, including multiple of them, for open borders. That is what makes you a single issue person.

        • FormerRanger says:

          Caplan’s position (at least in his comic book) is that open borders would raise worldwide GDP per person, which seems to be more of a Utilitarian position than a Libertarian one, although there can certainly be overlap.

      • LadyJane says:

        Interestingly, I recently came to a similar conclusion, that the libertarian movement had split into four groups. I defined them a bit differently than you (you seem to emphasize one’s stance on immigration as the key defining quality, whereas I see it more as a very strong indicator of one’s positions on a whole host of issues), although my groups roughly correspond to the ones you listed.

        Radical Libertarians: The exact same group you describe as Purists. They’re fiscally conservative, socially liberal, anti-establishment, and completely unwilling to compromise on any of those things. These are the people who refuse to vote as a matter of principle, or only vote for joke candidates like Vermin Supreme, or support extreme candidates like Adam “my first act as President will be to dissolve the federal government” Kokesh. They typically see SJWs and social conservatives as two sides of the same coin, and view the Culture War as a distraction from the true fight against the state. This is where the hardcore minarchists, anarcho-capitalists (excluding Hoppeans), voluntarists, and objectivists fall.

        Conservative Libertarians: This group largely matches up with your Ex-Friedmanites. They’re fiscally conservative and anti-establishment, but willing to compromise on the socially liberal part. Their emphasis on fiscal policy leads them to support Republicans more often than not, though they’re critical of the neoconservative and religious wings of the Republican Party. Even so, they generally see social and religious conservatives as a far lesser threat to liberty than SJWs, and there’s a very strong overlap between Conservative Libertarians and the Anti-SJW movement. They’re broadly pro-LGB, but many are skeptical or outright dismissive of trans and non-binary identities, and most are opposed to “the LGBTQ movement.” They’re staunchly opposed to anti-discrimination policies (Radical and Establishment Libertarians oppose anti-discrimination laws too, but don’t emphasize the issue nearly as much). And, as you said, they almost always take an “order of operations” approach when it comes to immigration, arguing that we can’t have open borders until we abolish the welfare state. Most of the posters in Reason’s comments section fall into this group, much to the staff’s dismay.

        Establishment Libertarians: This group roughly corresponds to your Johnsonites, although it’s also the group that I’d most associate with Reason, Cato, and other corporate-funded libertarian publications. They’re fiscally conservative and socially liberal, but willing to compromise on the anti-establishment part. They tend to be supportive of Republicans who are moderate on social issues and Democrats who are moderate on fiscal policy, even if it means siding with neoconservatives and neoliberals with hawkish foreign policy stances and a poor track record on civil liberties. They tend to vehemently oppose social conservatism and whole-heartedly agree with progressives when it comes to minority rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigration, recreational drug use, and sex work. However, they also strongly denounce progressives for their leftist economic views, supporting budget cuts and deregulation. Out of all the libertarians here, they’re the most supportive of media corporations restricting controversial content and deplatforming controversial users, due to their belief in the right of businesses to free association (Radical and Conservative Libertarians usually believe that censoring specific political opinions violates the spirit of free speech, while Progressive Libertarians tend to be extremely skeptical of corporate power). Beltway Libertarians who focus on electoral politics fall into this group, as do Silicon Valley techno-libertarian types.

        Progressive Libertarians: This group loosely corresponds to your Open Borders Purists, although I’d disagree with that characterization of them as single-issue activists. They’re socially liberal and anti-establishment, but willing to compromise on the fiscally conservative part. They’re often erroneously referred to as left-libertarians, although unlike true left-libertarians (e.g. libsocs and ancoms), they still support free-market capitalism and staunchly reject socialism. This is a fairly broad category: Some are “Bleeding Heart Libertarians” like Kevin Carson who support welfare programs and anti-discrimination laws, although they still tend to be more supportive of free markets and deregulation than normal progressives and left-liberals. (Scott’s position of being “pro-welfare but anti-regulation” fits perfectly here.) A few, like Roderick Long, attempt to bridge the gap between capitalist libertarianism and left-libertarianism with ideologies like Georgism, agorism, and market anarchism. Other Progressive Libertarians have their own “order of operations” approach – they believe that welfare and anti-discrimination policies wouldn’t be needed in a true free-market system, but are necessary band-aids as long as we’re still living under crony capitalism. In their view, government is doing the equivalent of breaking people’s knees and giving them crutches; it’s important to stop the leg-breaking, but it would also be stupid and cruel to take away the crutches from people who’ve already had their legs broken. Others still are Civil Libertarians who don’t really care about economic issues at all, and simply focus on opposing social conservatism and authoritarianism. All of these subgroups are highly supportive of open borders, feminism, the LGBTQ movement, and Black Lives Matter; even the ones who oppose anti-discrimination laws and identity politics in principle still view them as a much lesser threat to liberty than police brutality, anti-abortion laws, gay marriage prohibition, bathroom regulations, prohibitions on drug use and sex work, and so forth.

        There are two other groups: First, there are Paleo-Libertarians, who outright reject social liberalism and view social conservatism as not just a lesser evil or an irrelevancy but as a goal to actively strive for (Hoppean ancaps, Tea Party/Trumpist pseudo-libertarians, Christian Dominionists and ethno-nationalists who see libertarianism as a means to bring about their desired social system). Second, there are Left-Libertarians, who outright reject capitalism and support socialism, communism, or left-anarchism (libertarian socialists, anarcho-syndicalists, anarcho-communists, and so forth). However, I don’t really consider either of them to fall under the same umbrella as the other four.

        A good litmus test to distinguish these groups is which non-Libertarian Presidential candidate a libertarian found the most tolerable in the 2016 election. If they enthusiastically preferred Cruz or Trump, they’re a Paleo-Libertarian. If they preferred Kasich or some other moderate Republican, or reluctantly supported Trump, they’re a Conservative Libertatian. If they preferred Hillary, they’re an Establishment Libertarian. If they preferred Bernie but thought he was a bit too far left on economics, they’re a Progressive Libertarian. If they preferred Bernie but thought he wasn’t nearly far left enough, they’re a Left-Libertarian. If they refuse to answer the question because they view all of those candidates as equally terrible, they’re a Radical Libertarian.

        • Clutzy says:

          I would agree with your assessment that I think immigration is a main point of schism recently. I would also say that social justice is the second point.

          However, I don’t think I agree with your 4 categories, because I think your category of “progressive libertarian” because those people, while they might exist, were never part of the libertarian coalition. At least not for 15+ years. Also they are an extremely different group than my “open borders purists.”

          Also, I agree, in part with your “establishment libertarians” commentary, but would also like to throw some shade at that group, because I think a not small % of them really only care about making smoking weed legal.

        • Rebecca Friedman says:

          One data point – I tend to think of myself as an incrementalist an-cap, but I probably match your Conservative Libertarian group better than any other (exception for the trans identities and abolish the welfare state first things), possibly because of living in a blue bubble. The left is winning, the social part of my platform is either not under threat or not backed by the left any more, and that makes them much scarier; while social conservatives would theoretically be scary if they got into power, realistically the only place my vote comes close to making a difference they don’t have a snowball’s chance (and I am pretty sure, though I could be wrong, that over time through the whole country they have been consistently losing ground on this set of issues; I don’t expect that trend to reverse). So I find SJWs much more threatening, and will usually vote for Republicans in California. Unless the Libertarians run a candidate who gets on the ballot, but that’s… not common.

          I’m not sure if I fit so oddly because I’m weird, or whether it’s a problem with the scheme. (I’d be perfectly willing to believe the former.) But have a data point!

          • LadyJane says:

            Well, I think part of the issue is that my categories are meant to describe specific tribes rather than specific ideologies. The classification is partially based around what stances people have, but it’s also based around which issues people choose to prioritize; an Establishment Libertarian and a Conservative Libertarian might have the exact same views, but the Establishment Libertarian might believe that opposing immigration restrictions is far more important than lowering taxes, and the Conservative might believe the inverse. And beyond even that, it’s about who they choose to ally themselves with and whose language they speak. It’s about which candidates and political parties they vote for, which activists and organizations and movements they support, which pundits they listen to. It’s about whose content they consume the most, whose slang terms they use, whose voices are loudest in their personalized social media echo chambers. A Progressive Libertarian is unlikely to use the term “virtue signaling” unless it’s meant ironically, and a non-Progressive Libertarian is unlikely to use a leftist phrase like “good praxis” to describe an admirable course of political action.

            I could’ve been more clear, but while most ancaps fall into the Radical Libertarian category, there are bound to be some in all four groups, especially if they’re incrementalists. Penn Jillette is an anarcho-capitalist and a Randian objectivist, but he also falls squarely into the Establishment Libertarian category; he praised Gary Johnson as a paragon of integrity, and encouraged libertarians in swing states to vote for Hillary Clinton to prevent Trump from winning. I know a trans ancap who’s very much a Progressive Libertarian, and expresses glee at the idea of market forces utterly crushing bigots and social conservatives down to nothing, leaving them powerless and irrelevant and destitute (a few weeks back, when Chick-Fil-A finally caved to pressure from LGBT activists and stopped donating to anti-gay groups, she said that it was proof that capitalism really does work). And conversely, while Georgism tends to be associated with Progressive Libertarians, I know a Georgist who’s actually quite the Conservative, given his opposition to the Social Justice movement, his general apathy about racial issues and women’s issues and LGBT issues, his skepticism about trans identities and outright rejection of non-binary identities, and his support for Republican politicians (while his ideal economic system is a geolibertarian one, he views Republican austerity measures as a step closer to his ideal of a single land tax, and views Democratic tax increases as a step away from it).

        • They’re fiscally conservative, socially liberal, anti-establishment, and completely unwilling to compromise on any of those things.

          What does “unwilling to compromise” mean? People who don’t believe in taxes still pay them. Do you mean “unwilling to support a less libertarian position” on these issues?

          Consider someone whose ultimate objective is anarcho-capitalism, but believes that getting there will be a gradual process, so in the short run he supports abolishing government activity X, reducing activity Y, ignoring for the moment activity Z—roughly my position. Is that compromising on Y and Z?

          • LadyJane says:

            What does “unwilling to compromise” mean? People who don’t believe in taxes still pay them. Do you mean “unwilling to support a less libertarian position” on these issues?

            Yes, that’s basically what I mean.

            Consider someone whose ultimate objective is anarcho-capitalism, but believes that getting there will be a gradual process, so in the short run he supports abolishing government activity X, reducing activity Y, ignoring for the moment activity Z—roughly my position. Is that compromising on Y and Z?

            No, I don’t think so. Compromising would be more like “strongly endorsing and voting for Candidate N because he also wants to abolish X, despite the fact that he also wants to increase activities Y and Z.” Or “writing blog posts and making YouTube videos about how all libertarians should prioritize X first and foremost, and how they need to stop bringing up Y and Z because those things don’t really matter.”

        • quanta413 says:

          Their emphasis on fiscal policy leads them to support Republicans more often than not, though they’re critical of the neoconservative and religious wings of the Republican Party.

          I know this is kind of a tangent, but after you remove those groups from the Republican party who is left at the national level? I’m not saying I could count them on my fingers and toes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I could get pretty close.

          I mean there’s Trump, but that still looks like a fluke. And I don’t think most of those who decided to tag on to him after the fact are doing so out of any ideological coherence. It’s possible this will lead to a true realignment of Republican types, but it hasn’t yet.

          • SamChevre says:

            What’s left is the historic core of the Republican Party (pre-1960s)–the wealthy, well-educated, tax and wealth focused group. Mitt Romney is the most prominent recent example, but this group has a huge influence in Republican institutions.

        • sharper13 says:

          I don’t necessarily want to attempt to describe my entire political philosophy, but what struck me about both sets of attempted 4 categories is how neither of them included a category describing me. So it seems there must be at least one person with general libertarian/voluntarist ideals/beliefs who doesn’t fit.

    • ana53294 says:

      What does “socially liberal” even mean? AFAIU, the following things:

      Equal rights on gender/LGBT/race/religion/ethnicity

      Allowing people to do whatever they want, as long as they don’t harm anybody else

      Support for open borders

      In my view, open borders, especially muslim immigrants, harm all those other things, which is why I am not socially liberal. I would be OK with even increasing immigration, if we could exclude muslims (and yes, equal treatment to all religions who are already in my country does not mean equal treatment to those who want to come into my country).

      As for fiscally conservative, if it means reducing bureaucracy, cutting the deep state, and reducing deficits, I’m all for it. In practice, it seems to mean to cut taxes while increasing deficits. Left wing parties in Spain seem to be the only ones that care about deficits, as they try to raise taxes. Right wing parties just want to lower taxes without cutting expenses (in Spain). I think current taxpayers should pay for current expenses and liabilities; raising taxes to pay for welfare at least makes the costs more clear to people.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        I agree with your analysis and how those problems make a hash of identifying with the labels.

      • Equal rights on gender/LGBT/race/religion/ethnicity

        Allowing people to do whatever they want, as long as they don’t harm anybody else

        Whether these two are consistent depends on what the rights are that you are being equal about. If it includes the right to have a baker bake a wedding cake for you, even if he disapproves of your sexuality, then it is inconsistent with allowing the baker to do whatever he wants.

        Unless you define “harm” to include “fail to help.”

        • ana53294 says:

          Well, I am against forcing bakers to bake gay cake (or anything else they may be morally against).

          Equal rights to me means a right to not be discriminated by the government. But equal rights should not go against the right of free association.

          So, for example, if a group of men want to create a men’s club to do whatever men want to do, hiring only male waiters, because women would spoil the fun, or vice versa for women, I think that should be legal.

          I was thinking of allowing people to do what they want more in terms of consuming drugs, euthanasia, consensual adult sex, etc.

    • John Schilling says:

      Is “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” a dead stance? It seems like most libertarians eventually abandon that position; they either reject the social liberalism and become social conservatives/alt-rightists […] or they reject the fiscal conservatism and become left-libertarians or outright DemSocs/AnComs.

      Who are the libertarians that you see doing this? As others have noted. fiscally-conservative/socially-liberal is the least populated of the four quadrants, but it has I think been fairly stable in its population for at least a generation. What are you seeing that makes you feel otherwise?

      Actually, let’s pin that down a bit further. Fiscally-conservative/socially-live-and-let-live has I think been stable at ~15% of the population. There has been a movement, successful in some circles, to recast “live and let live” as the reactionary social position. So if you hang out in those circles, some of what you are seeing may just be the local reclassification of people whose beliefs haven’t changed.

    • EchoChaos says:

      I think that’s mostly the fact that fiscally conservative had a really bad decade in the ’00s.

      Bush was as fiscally conservative a politician running as we’ve had in a while, but then 9/11 happened and he broke the bank for the war while still making fiscally conservative noises.

      Myself I’m the opposite. I’ve always been socially conservative. I was often the only social conservative in my college friend groups, even though it was majority Republican and fiscally conservative. But I’ve drifted less fiscally conservative as I’ve gotten older and seen things like the ’00s.

      I’ve also drifted substantially more socially conservative as I’ve seen the damage things like no-fault divorce have done.

    • FCSL was popular among Right-wingers who circa 2004 wanted to distinguish themselves from the evangelical Christian stuff, emphasizing their support for legal abortion and indifference to the gay stuff. It never really meant social liberal in the libertarian sense of “personal freedom.” Bloomberg, with his anti-smoking and anti-obesity “nanny state” was certainly no believer in libertarian personal freedom, but he was FCSL because he was obviously not a Christian. Today, however, “socially liberal” means supporting affirmative action and public schools telling kids they can change their gender. Few one the right want to be associated with that, so they won’t call themselves socially liberal even if their views are the same and they still support abortion and don’t care about the gays.

    • BBA says:

      At least with regard to Democratic elites, FCSL steadily dropped as a self-identification as the party moved towards a stance of social liberalism requiring a generous welfare state.

      Bloomberg has a very ’90s Democratic elite vibe, but as mayor during the ’00s he was neither fiscally conservative (he raised taxes and spending) nor socially liberal (three words: stop and frisk).

    • Etoile says:

      I think people age out of the revolutionary and into the pragmatic; and there might be libertarians among the young kids these days, but not among the older folks who might think about it and find the allures of such things as protectionism, enforced social responsibility, enforced social order, and the downsides of unfettered freedom. (For example, I always found people’s self-righteous disdain for smokers to be a little over-the-top. But when I got pregnant, my sympathy for any kind of smoking plummeted, be it tobacco or other flora.)

    • Plumber says:

      Trigger Warning: While I suspect that much of what I propose below could work, most is also what I greatly fear and would find appalling were they to come true, so be warned of ”modest proposals”.

      @LadyJane says:

      “Is “fiscally conservative but socially liberal” a dead stance?…]

      […Why is this particular ideological stance so unpopular? I have my own theory, but I’m curious to hear if anyone else has any ideas”

      Because the near rich are all trying to move to the same neighborhoods, 2008, both Massachusetts and Utah seem to work, and nostalgia. 

      Alright, a little nuance (though still off the cuff): Real full libertarianism has never been tried, but if it was it would be awesome!”

      Sure, yeah, maybe, many said the same of communism, though “actually existing socialism” ranges from “could be worse, could also be a lot better” Cuba to “Hellscape” North Korea. 

      Beating a drum here, but places where most seem relatively happier (last time I checked with my Californian perspective): Canada, Costa Rica, Scandinavia, Switzerland, and Utah (and to some extent Singapore, but that place scares the Hell out of me), and what do these places have in common? 

      Well Utah is part of the U.S.A., but it’s kinda unique within it so almost like a separate country (think of Denmark within the E.U.), and in that terms it’s not a giant populous country like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, or the whole U.S.A. nor is it San Marino small nor are the rest of my ‘happier places’ list (okay Singapore, but scary so ignoring!).

      Some are more secular, some more homogenous, some more diverse, some more religious, most are social-democratic/welfare-state-capitalist, none are fully“anarcho-capitalist” nor are any fully socialist, and none are strongly secular, libertarian, and also diverse (maybe Canada and Switzerland come closest, but far from strongly).

      Now in imagining a place that’s very diverse, secular, tolerant of eccentricity, and strongly capitalist I would expect that place to be very innovative in art, science, and technology, and great wealth would be created there, I’d also expect to find pockets of extreme poverty amongst the wealth, increasing deaths from alcohol, drugs, and suicide, low birthrates due to few marriages and pessimistm, in short a place where the exceptional may thrive more then anywhere else, but the many feel more and more insecure. Of course I don’t have to imagine too hard because I may see a place much like that by walking 30 feet until I get to the sidewalk here in San Francisco and see the Tesla’s and tents.

      Now the easiest thing that I see to change San Francisco (and more and more elsewhere) to be more like happier places is to be a bit more social-democratic and less hyper-capitalist, but if you want to have mass sincere conversions (somehow) to Mormonism or another communitarian (and, let’s be honest, conformist) faith instead I’m okay with that. 

      Now let’s look at who supports “social liberalism” and “fiscal conservatism” separately, well social liberalism is supported most by those who are younger and more educated than most (and since younger adults usually have more years of school on average than their elders do I’m not sure if it’s their youth or educations that drive that).

      I’m not going to use “fiscal conservatism”, instead I’ll use “anti-redistributionism”, and who holds the most anti-redistribution beliefs? 

      Well those with more than $200,000 a year in annual income.

      Education correlates with income, but it’s not always one-for-one (some with more school have less income as well as the opposite), and this is important. 

      Age also correlates with income, but again not always. 

      A while back in a previous Open Thread I linked to some studies (I think from 2012) that tracked folks’ income and their average political opinions, and what I remember is (as I expected) for Americans overall redistribution was more popular with lower income Americans, and social-liberalism (since income and years spent in school correlates) is more popular with higher income Americans (with me so far?).

      It’s differences of opinions within supporters of our two major parties that things get interesting:

      Lower income Republicans are (as I would expect) more pro-redistribution on average than higher income Republicans, most Republicans are social-conservatives except those with the very top in incomes (still with me?), and I’d expected a similar pattern among Democrats, but nope. 

      Lower income Democrats are indeed less social-liberal than higher income Democrats, and Democrats with incomes above $200,000 are indeed less pro-redistribution than most Democrats, but so were Democrats with less than $40,000 a year in annual income (still with me?), it’s Democrats who earn between $80,000 and $200,000 a year who are the most pro-redistribution. 

      And who are Republicans? 

      Well mostly white folks who don’t live in cities (more men than women, etc.).

      And who are Democrats? 

      Well mostly folks who live in cities and some rural non-whites.

      Still with me?

      So who are social-liberals who are pro-redistribution? 

      As my guess I’d say the younger urban educated, usually with higher than most Americans income, who (because cities are expensive, especially cities where you’re likely to earn those incomes) probably still can’t afford to own spacious real estate, but see the Tesla’s of the rich, and the tent’s of the urban destitute.

      Now let’s think about this cohort, they’re from a big generation who relatively fewer older siblings, aunts, and uncles (cause “Generation X is smaller) that are in-between theirs and their parents age and there’s a large cohort of “Boomers” that are their parents generation, so a “generation gap”, that’s spent a long time in school with each other, and (since college students usually have parents that were college students) they grew up amongst educated folks isolated from most Americans, in that “hot house”, they encourage each others educated class social-liberalism, and they (to stay together and pay off their educations) move to where social-liberalism is most popular, and incomes are high (still with me?).

      And what happens when a bunch of folks with higher than average incomes move at once to the same places?

      Well housing is bid up in those places (still with me?), so they don’t feel rich, plus there’s all these homeless people around them now, add in a financial collapse in 2008, by 2009 unemployment rates like in 1983, later increasing homelessness even in an economic recovery in the most in-demand cities, previously de-industrialization since the free trade agreements with China, and viola! It’s 1932 again and the electorate doesn’t much care for neo-liberalism, plus the ’90’s “third way” pro hyper-capitalism with social-liberalism consensus popularity is broken. 

      So how do you promote social-liberalism?

      Since social conservatives are only a slight majority of the 2016 electorate just a little push should suffice for a majority. 

      Have more people spend more time amongst the educated and the young, and keep them from interacting with the rest of us, also discourage marriage and children as those tend to correlate with social conservatism (especially for some reason those who become married fathers of daughters).

      Tie income and education together more strongly, and it has to be a specific kind of education, as much as possible keep exposure to older adults at bay (so traditional apprenticeships are right out), so large classes with the teachers being collegiate class (and hopefully not much older than the students).

      If you have to choose which to educate more choose women as mother’s tend to pass on their views to their children more, ideally have children never know their fathers (though this may hinder your anti-redistribution agenda).

      How do you encourage anti-redistributionism?

      This is a little tougher, while Americans tend to not be as residtributionist as other nations folks, mild redistribution is favored by a bigger majority than social conservatism is, and these days even the once center-Right Time Magazine has anti-capitalist essays. 
      Without a church based voluntary welfare and safety net for the poor and/or unlucky there will still be calls for a state based one, a secular urban professional class that lives near extremes of wealth and poverty that sees what charity given by the even more wealthy being “effective altruism” that goes overseas (and saves more lives) but not where they live may vote to tax themselves as well as those with even higher incomes, so you need to make them resent taxation more than a lack of spending, endless unpopular war should do the trick, have it so that the majority of voters have no family or friends with family in the military they want protected, armies of robots and professional volunteer soldiers drawn from outside the cities should work for that, wherever possible destroy military service as a common rite of citizenship. 

      You could encourage voluntary charity as a substitute for state enacted redistribution, but the most effective agents of that are faith based, and the ones that tend to be socially liberal (“mainline protestant”) are greatly diminished, and the others tend towards social conservatism, besides encouraging patriotic altruism may backfire by having folks decide to tax themselves and act through the state, so encouraging hopelessness among the needy and individualist hedonism among the more fortunate would probably be easier, so:

      1) Destroy/reform Catholicism, it supports both social conservatism (to some extent) and redistribution. 

      2) Destroy/reform “historically black” protestant churches, ’cause same thing.

      3) Destroy/reform “historically white evangelical” Protestantism, ’cause while many pastors are anti-state redistribution, some are neutral on redistribution and most promote social conservatism. 

      4) You pretty much will want to destroy/reform most popular faiths, as most don’t have a “taxation is theft” gospel, and most support marriage with children. 

      5) Destroy labor unions, while they sometimes make those usually inclined towards social conservativism more forgiving of liberalism they also encourage redistribution, besides you want any and all non-college paths to look terrible, also union meetings are “practice fields for democracy” and you don’t want to encourage that. You may want to destroy teachers unions last though, while strongly pro-redistribution they’re effective at encouraging social liberalism. 

      6) Destroy patriotism, any fellowship based on citizenship may encourage redistribution. Excise any tales that flatter the U.S. Government from the textbooks, tell little of 1933 to 1953 that looks good, no public works, no liberations of death camps, no Berlin airlift, no containment of Communism.

      Keep firebombing of cities and internment in the texts.

      7) If anti-redistribution is more important than social liberalism you’ll want to encourage racism so people will resent taxes possibly going to “those people”.

      8) As much as possible make folks think of “glorious winners” and “losers who don’t deserve help”. Print millions of “He who dies with the most toys wins” bumper stickers.

      9) Keep public schools if you want to encourage social liberalism, but make them Hellish, and time wasting especially for the non-college bound.

      10) More “lone rebels against the system” less “all in this together” stories, promote gangsters and grifters as heroes, “Scarface” and “Wolf of Wall Street” not “Saving Private Ryan”.

      11) Make highly addictive and dangerous drugs easily available to the old and/or poor. Make highly addictive and expensive drugs available to the rich and near rich.

      12) Easy access to brutal dehumanizing pornography, encourage the idea of “scoring” discourage “loving”.

      13) More gambling casinos. 

      Normally I’d wish “good luck”, but with this list, while I think it could or has worked, and a couple of my “encourage social liberalism” ideas don’t look that Hellscape promoting, almost all of my “promote anti-redistribution” ideas do look like bringing up Hell, so I can’t. 

      I think you’re heart is in the right place @LadyJane, and maybe my view is skewed because much of my work hours are spent in a jail, and I pass by many homeless encampments most days, but they’re other values than freedom that I find more compelling.

      • Now the easiest thing that I see to change San Francisco (and more and more elsewhere) to be more like happier places is to be a bit more social-democratic and less hyper-capitalist

        An odd way of putting it, given that San Francisco is one of the most left wing cities in one of the most left wing states in the U.S. I’m not sure what your definition of “capitalist” is, but I would think that rigid restrictions on constructing housing, rules against free-lance labor, a high minimum wage, and lots of other characteristics of SF would make it less capitalist than most of the U.S.

        • Plumber says:

          @DavidFriedman,
          Good points all, when I thought of as “hyper-capitalist” I had in mind: “Likelihood of an individual acquiring massively more wealth than average”, that is becoming a billionaire.

          Though I suppose “Ease of becoming self-employed” could be an alternative definition of “more capitalist”.

          I think I read somewhere that other than having more progressive income taxes the “Nordic” countries have more “economic freedom” so presumably less regulated in many ways, so sure “secret sauces” may have multiple ingredients (also how does France have a higher birthrates than the U.S.A. now?).

          • Good points all, when I thought of as “hyper-capitalist” I had in mind: “Likelihood of an individual acquiring massively more wealth than average”, that is becoming a billionaire.

            I believe quite a lot of the very wealthy people in the world at present became very wealthy through their control of a government—Saudi princes, African kleptocrats, and the like.

            Not what I would think of as hyper-capitalist.

  17. zardoz says:

    [Post 2 reviewing Business Adventures]

    Previously: Post 1

    The second chapter of Business Adventures is about the Edsel, a new brand of automobile which Ford brought out in the late 1950s. Although the company spent lavishly on the design, marketing, and distribution of the car, it turned out to be a huge flop in the marketplace.

    This chapter has some of the flavor of post-crash descriptions of the dot-com bubble. Tens of thousands of people were hired for the doomed project! At the Edsel unveiling, stunt drivers drove Edsels off of ramps, and around tracks at speeds up to 70 miles per hour! There were huge parties! A helicopter spread a giant Edsel sign above San Francisco Bay!

    Brooks spends a lot of time describing the follies of the market research department. For example, one consultant they hired suggested “Utopian Turtletop” and “Andante con Moto” as possible names for the new brand of cars. At one point, the market research department asked the executives to choose from over six thousand names, to which they replied “we only want one!”
    The department also spent a long time trying to psychoanalyze prospective buyers and “determine the personality” of different brands of cars, with unclear results.

    On the whole, though, the market research department doesn’t seem to be the reason why the Edsel failed. Their recommendations weren’t even followed much of the time. For example, the name “Edsel” itself was proposed by an executive at Ford, not by their team. In fact, the market research department hated the name “Edsel.”

    The car’s development followed what we would today call a “waterfall” design pattern. First the executives decided what kind of car to build. Then, the engineering team finalized the design of the car. Then the “styling” of the car body was completed.
    After that, the car was named, marketing campaigns were orchestrated, and dealerships were brought in.

    It seems like most of Edsel’s problems began at the very first step of this process– deciding what to build. The market segment that Ford executives wanted to target — the “midrange” — looked attractive in the mid 1950s when the Edsel program started, but small cars sales were surging by the time the Edsel was available for sale. (By the way, it’s kind of jaw-dropping what was considered “midrange” in the 1950s. A typical midrange car of this period was a giant, 350 horsepower behemoth with elaborate tail fins… burning leaded gasoline, of course.)

    I’m not an expert on the automobile industry, but this seems like a recurring pattern with American car companies. They always seem to want to build big cars, whether or not that’s what the public wants to buy. In the 1980s, Japanese car companies would run away with the small car market because of this odd blind spot (if that is what it was?). Lately, American car companies have been doing a bit better, but mostly because of sales of trucks and bigger cars.

    The Edsel was one of the first cars to have a separate indicator light that would light up when the fuel gauge was low. Brooks pokes fun at this feature. Can’t people just look at the fuel gauge instead? This is a good example of how today’s ridiculously extravagant feature set for high-end models becomes tomorrow’s baseline expectation. On the other hand, in hindsight, some of the Edsel’s new ideas were bad… like the button-based gear shifter located on the steering wheel.

    How did the Edsel look, visually? Brooks doesn’t quite come out and say that the car was ugly, but he strongly implies it. I opened up wikipedia to take a look at a picture for myself, and… yuck.

    Is Silicon Valley is the modern-day Detroit? Perhaps that would make Google+ the modern-day Edsel? Hmm.

    One thing that does seem to have changed since the 1950s is that people are less surprised by corporate failures than previously. In the startup world, at least, failure often seems to be expected.

    • FormerRanger says:

      Historically, car manufacturers in the US want to build big cars (and today, big SUVs and pickup trucks) because the profit margins on them are higher than for small cars, and because people seem to want them except when the price of gasoline makes them too expensive to drive.

    • James says:

      Worth mentioning that the suggester of Utopian Turtletop was a somewhat known imagist poet, Marianne Moore. Staggeringly, she appears to have been in dead earnest with this suggestion.

    • bean says:

      On the other hand, in hindsight, some of the Edsel’s new ideas were bad… like the button-based gear shifter located on the steering wheel.

      Whether this is a bad idea depends heavily on how you look at it. The concept suggests modern paddle shifters, although I’m sure the implementation differs.

      • Aapje says:

        Edsel’s system required removing a hand from the steering wheel, which was not so safe. Modern paddle shifters also typically work as automatics, where Edsel’s system was a pre-selector (so more of a semi-automatic). You’d press the button and then push the shift paddle, which would make the system shift.

        Fun fact: Edsel made their salespeople wear a mask with a picture of the center of the steering wheel, with the shift buttons (see the bottom of the page I linked).

        • zardoz says:

          Fun fact: Edsel made their salespeople wear a mask with a picture of the center of the steering wheel, with the shift buttons (see the bottom of the page I linked).

          Wow, that mask is truly bizarre. What were they thinking?

  18. Purplehermann says:

    How would you set up an aristocratic (or oligarchic) government to function well long term?

    • albatross11 says:

      I’d say:

      a. Make it possible for very successful commoners to be raised to the aristocracy via some kind of mechanism–maybe adoption or marriage where wealthy merchants can buy their kids a spot in the aristocracy, or very successful soldiers/sailors can win a spot, for example.

      b. Allow people to fall out of the aristocracy (or at least lose any power advantages that come with it) by failure or being dumb.

      Ideally, you have something where the cleverest child of a current aristocrat/oligarch takes his place, and the other kids have to scramble for a limited number of second-smartest-kid spots, and a few commoners end up being raised to the minor aristocracy over time.

      • Purplehermann says:

        Any reason for rule to be hereditary? In plato it isn’t.

      • You may also want to encourage a norm of noblesse oblige, the idea that although an aristocrat can just live a life of lazy luxury, it’s higher status to take good care of your estates, which includes a certain amount of benevolent paternalism for the tenants, or be a courageous soldier, or … .

        I’m fond of Kipling’s story “An Habitation Enforced” as a picture of how he thought the English class system was supposed to work.

      • Nick says:

        Ever since I heard of it I’ve been interested in the way dynastic Japanese families adopted kids in. It meant you weren’t necessarily screwed by regression to the mean. Aristocracy needs regular infusion if that aristo- part is to stay true; marriage is probably not enough, since all it does is improve chances the kids are a little smarter or more conscientious or kinder, but adoption or buy-in would work better. Buy-in may have the issue where new blood is looked on poorly; I don’t know to what extent this was an issue in families that adopted in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if adopted sons were looked on poorly by blood sons if they stood to inherit the family business.

      • spkaca says:

        Replying to albatross11 above:
        At the risk of being that guy who says: “x. You’ve invented x”, these two factors are basically those that distinguish the historic English aristocracy from continental European aristocracies.
        “Make it possible for very successful commoners to be raised to the aristocracy”
        This happened often enough – see for example John Churchill AKA the Duke of Marlborough (from a gentry family, i.e. not an aristocrat by birth); Lord Nelson (clergyman’s son). This was not impossible on the continent, but my impression is it tended to be harder (perhaps because there, military commanders usually had to be aristocrats to begin with).
        “Allow people to fall out of the aristocracy”
        This very much happened, though not so much by failure as in the natural course of things. In at least some continental countries every son of an aristocrat had aristocratic status; not in England. Macaulay (History of England ch.1): “Any gentleman might become a peer. The younger son of a peer was but a gentleman. Grandsons of peers yielded precedence to newly made knights… It was regarded as no disparagement for the daughter of a Duke, nay of a royal Duke, to espouse a distinguished commoner.” He gives examples. Then: “There were Bohuns, Mowbrays, De Veres, nay, kinsmen of the house of Plantagenet, with no higher addition than Esquire, and with no civil privileges beyond those enjoyed by every farmer and shopkeeper. There was therefore here no line like that which in some other countries divided the patrician from the plebeian.”
        In relation to the OP, this doesn’t guarantee the very long-term survival of aristocratic government. The one thing that you have to prevent is the Industrial Revolution. But as for functioning well over a long period (for some values of well), the English aristocracy provides a benchmark. Why that should be so is another (enormous) question.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          In relation to the OP, this doesn’t guarantee the very long-term survival of aristocratic government. The one thing that you have to prevent is the Industrial Revolution. But as for functioning well over a long period (for some values of well), the English aristocracy provides a benchmark. Why that should be so is another (enormous) question.

          I don’t think the English aristocracy was done in by the Industrial Revolution, so much as by cheap food imports meaning that landholding was no longer a good source of wealth. So to keep the aristocracy functioning, you’d need to either keep food prices higher somehow, or find some cash crop(s) they could switch to to keep their lands profitable.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Or have a larger portion of them be clever enough to build factories on their land or acquire holdings with the raw materials necessary for such

    • Nick says:

      One idea ancillary to others’ suggestions is to mix aristocratic rule with other elements, which may work particularly well if these elements check and balance each other. A government can be primarily aristocratic while still having some democratic rule, like if these were two camera, or aristocrats could be checked by a monarch or commoner institutions like guilds and town councils.

    • Milo Minderbinder says:

      Over how much territory, and over what diversity of subjects? What are the opinions of neighboring/relevant nations?

      General ideas:

      1. Avoid consanguinity if possible. Long-run consolidation of dynastic holdings is probably more safely achieved with some form of primogeniture (or any form of designated succession that preserves the family’s fortune).

      2. Related to the above, strong rule of law. Not just inheritance law, but also a clear demarcation of the rights and duties of all classes of citizens. Noble privilege can be tolerated, but arbitrary actions by nobles will soon inspire outrage.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Make it look like a meritocracy at surface. Make it easy for competent people to raise in the ranks, but only up to a point. Maybe set up a process that filters away those with too much independent spirit – possibly a multi-year certification process, and make it as tedious as possible. But make a few locations challenging as well as tedious – that’s your recruiting grounds. Seed it with young genuine aristocrats, both for camouflage and to help train the next generation to manage the meritocrats.

      Have the whole system look like a not-aristocracy, and add as many confusing elements on top of it as possible. Set up teams that fight constantly but are irrelevant. Have a system where anybody can “get involved”, and make sure they can’t change anything important. Make it possible, in principle, to raise up to any hights in that system. For those that don’t have the IQ or interest to get involved, have a periodic ritual where they participate into the government. The act itself can be trivial and inconsequential, but pump it up well in advance, and make it look as if that small act decides everything. Look into sports for inspiration.

      Then just obscure any hint of the real power – if you did your job well enough, most people won’t even understand the concept any more. Sit back and enjoy.

    • Erusian says:

      What’s your definition of aristocracy? Any mature stable society where the elite can propagate its values and maintain its access to resources will have a pseudo-aristocracy (as Radu points out, the US very well may fit this description). However, while the class system can be durable, the individual aristocrats will not: a common pattern to places like mercantile city states or even Rome when it defined class solely by money is that major aristocratic families (or at least their importance) generally don’t last more than a few generations. In contrast, if you want centuries old families that stretch back to time immemorial you often need a system of explicit hereditary legal privilege, generally including some form of income and political influence.

  19. Anatoly says:

    Here’s a math puzzle. Please rot13 correct answers.

    There are 50 coins laid out on a table in a row. The coins are all in the same currency, but are of different denominations, possibly with repetitions. A and B take coins from the table: first A takes a coin from one of the ends of the row, then B takes one from one of the ends as they are now, then A again and so on until B takes the final remaining coin. Then they compare the sums of coins they ended up with. Prove that A can always play so that their total value is not less than B’s.

    • Eric Rall says:

      Jvgu bar pbva, N jvyy nyjnlf jva hayrff gur tnzr pbafvfgf bs n phefrq pbva jvgu artngvir inyhr. Be gvr, vs gur bar pbva vf pbzcyrgryl jbeguyrff rira nf fpenc zrgny.

      Jvgu gjb pbvaf, vg’f gevivnyyl gehr gung N pna nyjnlf jva be gvr ol cvpxvat gur uvturfg-inyhrq pbva svefg.

      Jvgu guerr pbvaf, tnzrf rkvfg jurer O pna sbepr n jva. Sbe rknzcyr, pbafvqre gur pnfr jurer gur pbvaf ner n HF craal, dhnegre, naq avpxry, nccrnevat va gung beqre. N zhfg gnxr bar bs gur gjb raq pbvaf, nyybjvat O gb gnxr gur dhnegre, naq sbepvat N gb gnxr gur erznvavat vavgvny raq pbva sbe n svany fpber bs fvk gb gjragl-svir.

      Jvgu sbhe pbvaf, V guvax N pna nyjnlf jva be gvr. V qba’g unir n cebbs lrg, ohg V fhfcrpg n qvivqr-naq-pbadhre cebbs vf cbffvoyr.

      Jvgu svir pbvaf, yvxrjvfr tnzrf rkvfg jurer O pna sbepr n jva. Sbe rknzcyr: HF craal, craal, dhnegre, avpxry, craal. N zhfg gnxr na raq craal. O pna gura gnxr gur bccbfvgr raq craal, naq gur erfg bs gur tnzr cynlf bhg nf gur guerr-pbva rknzcyr.

      Sbe uvture ahzoref bs pbvaf, V fhfcrpg gurer’f na vaqhpgvba cebbs gung jvyy fubj rira-ahzorerq tnzrf ner jvaanoyr bs gvr-noyr sbe N, naq bqq-ahzore tnzrf rkvfg sbe juvpu O pna sbepr n jva. Ohg V qba’g unir n cebbs lrg.

    • Purplehermann says:

      N qrpvqrf jurgure ur jnagf riraf be bqqf. Vs ur jnagf riraf, ur gnxrf pbva ahzore 50. Bqqf, ahzore 1. Guvf jnl O bayl unf bqqf/riraf gb pubbfr sebz. Rirel ghea sbejneq N pubbfrf uvf glcr bs pbva (bqq be rira, zngpuvat uvf bevtvany pubvpr), yrnivat O jvgu bayl gur bcgvba bs pubbfvat gur bgure glcr.
      Vs bqqf ner jbegu zber guna riraf, N pubbfrf bqqf naq ivpr
      irefn

    • beleester says:

      Vs gurer ner 2 pbvaf, N fvzcyl gnxrf gur zber inyhnoyr bs gur gjb.
      Jung nobhg 4 pbvaf? Gjb raq pbvaf, rnpu jvgu na nffbpvngrq zvqqyr pbva gung orpbzrf ninvynoyr vs N gnxrf vg, yvxr fb: R1 Z1 Z2 R2

      Juvpurire raq N pubbfrf, gur bccbfvgr zvqqyr erznvaf vanpprffvoyr gb O. Fb jvgu pregnvagl, N pna pubbfr R1 + Z2 yrnivat R2 + Z1, be R2 + Z1 yrnivat R1 + Z2. Gurfr gjb pubvprf ner flzzrgevpny, fb N pna fvzcyl cvpx gur zber inyhnoyr bs gur gjb cnvef.

      Jung nobhg zber guna 4 pbvaf? N fvzvyne nethzrag nccyvrf – lbh unir n pubvpr bs gjb raqf, naq rvgure bar erirnyf n frg bs zvqqyr pbvaf, yrg’f ahzore gurz Z1-Za. N pna gnxr R1 naq xabj sbe n snpg gung [Z2…Za] ner vanpprffvoyr gb O (hagvy arkg ebhaq), be gnxr R2 naq xabj sbe n snpg gung [Z1…Za-1] ner vanpprffvoyr. Gurfr gjb bcgvbaf bireync rkprcg sbe gjb pbvaf, fb gurl’er rvgure thnenagrrvat R1 + Za (yrnivat R2 naq Z1 ng O’f zrepl) be R2 + Z1 (nonaqbavat R1 + Za). Url, jr’ir tbg nabgure zngpuvat cnve bs bcgvbaf, whfg yvxr gur 4-pbva pnfr! Nqq hc gubfr cnvef naq gnxr gur zber inyhnoyr, naq lbh thnenagrr gung gur zber inyhnoyr pbvaf ner rvgure lbhef, be vanpprffvoyr gb O jvgubhg lbhe crezvffvba (zrnavat gung lbh pna gnxr gurz va n shgher ebhaq).

      Jr unir n onfr pnfr, jr unir n pnfr sbe A, fb ol vaqhpgvba, N unf n jvaavat fgengrtl sbe nal rira ahzore bs pbvaf. (Guvf cebbs eryvrf ba chggvat pbvaf va cnvef, fb vg unf gb or rira. V org lbh pna qb fbzrguvat fvzvyne sbe bqq pbvaf, ohg vg’f orqgvzr fb V’yy yrnir vg ng gung.)

      • Anatoly says:

        V guvax lbhe vaqhpgvba fgrc cerfhccbfrf gung gur bccbarag cvpxf bhg gur pbva sebz gur bccbfvgr raq bs gur bar lbh cvpxrq. Fb sbe rknzcyr vs R1+Za > R2+Z1, naq lbh cvpx R1 onfrq ba gung, ohg Z1 > R1 naq gur bccbarag cvpxf Z1, gura gurl’er pheeragyl hc nurnq ba lbh, naq gubhtu vg znl fgvyy jbex bhe va gur raq, lbhe vaqhpgvba fgrc unf oebxra qbja.

        • beleester says:

          V guvax V bayl arrq gb cebir gung V’yy gnxr Za riraghnyyl, abg gung V’z nurnq ng rirel fgrc bs gur tnzr – nsgre nyy, vg zvtug or n ivnoyr fgengrtl gb gnxr n ybj pbva abj gb rafher lbh trg n uvtu pbva yngre. Sbe rknzcyr, vs gur pbvaf ner 1,2,9,3, gur pbeerpg cynl vf gb gnxr gur 1 pbva fb gung O pna’g gnxr gur 9, rira gubhtu gung zrnaf lbh’er ybfvat va gur svefg ebhaq. Vg’f abg erdhverq gb fubj gung N vf nurnq ng rirel fgrc, bayl gung gurl unir n cngu gb ivpgbel nsgre rirel fgrc.

          Gung fnvq, V nz abg 100% fher V’ir cebirq gung N pna gnxr rirel “frpherq” pbva. Orpnhfr lbh er-rinyhngr ng rirel fgrc, n pbva lbh’ir frpherq bar ebhaq zvtug or nonaqbarq ba gur arkg, naq V’z abg fher ubj gung punatr cebcntngrf guebhtu gur ebhaqf. V’yy unir gb guvax fbzr zber.

    • Peffern says:

      Other people have already given answers, but I thought it would be fun to point out that this question was, more or less in its entirety, given on an exam for freshman-level compsci theory (prereq for algorithms, datastructures, etc.) that I helped tutor and very few of them got it.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Can you give a hint as to how to start? Is it combinatorics?

        I tried induction, like someone else, but quickly surrendered.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      Ahzore gur pbvaf 1-50. Fhz gur inyhrf bs gur bqq vaqrk pbvaf naq bs gur rira vaqrk pbvaf. Vs gur bqqf ner ynetre, pubbfr 1. Bgurejvfr pubbfr 50. Gura nyjnlf gnxr sebz gur fnzr raq nf gur frpbaq cynlre. Lbh jvyy rvgure raq hc jvgu nyy bqq vaqrk be nyy rira vaqrk pbvaf, juvpurire vf ynetre, naq guhf jva gur tnzr (be gvr vs gur fhz vf rdhny).

      This shows the first player can’t lose, but is not optimal in some cases. Follow-up problem: determine a strategy that always wins if a win is possible.

      • Aftagley says:

        Pna’g N whfg errinyhngr vs gurve vavgvny pubvpr vf fgvyy jbegu zber guna gur bgure ng rirel vgrengvba bs gur plpyr?

        • eyeballfrog says:

          That’s more effective yes, but it’s not clear to me this catches all winning scenarios.

          • rahien.din says:

            Vg jbhyq pngpu nyy jvaavat fpranevbf, vs lbh bayl fjvgpu fgengrtvrf jura lbh ner nyernql nurnq.

    • Skivverus says:

      Curious what the strategy becomes if we increase this to 51 coins and 3 players.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        With fifty-one coins and two players, player B has slightly less than a fifty percent hance to win, assuming smooth distribution of denominations – all player B has to do is follow A’s strategy after A takes their first turn, and hope the difference between evens and odds is greater than the coin A took.

        Three players makes this a lot less trivial, because it is no longer possible to restrict opponents to one path. Going the inductive route, no one can guarantee a win with three coins, but it is easy to see that A can win two thirds of the games and B can win the rest. With four coins, A has a one coin advantage, but that matters only if at least three of the coins are of similar size, and the fourth is smaller, and larger than the difference between the other three. If so, then A can take whichever end coin is largest, and then will end up with the fourth. If the fourth is larger, A is back to depending on chance – that fourth coin will have to start on the outside.

        If players B and C aren’t trying to win, but rather to ensure A doesn’t, the cases get even more complicated. Even the set of available denominations becomes a factor.

    • Etoile says:

      Thank you for posting the link to doing Rot13. I couldn’t figure out how you all were doing it so easily.

  20. proyas says:

    Would it make sense for real space ships to have Jefferies Tubes like on Star Trek ships?
    http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org/articles/jefferies.htm

    I’ve toured a bunch of warships turned into museums, and seemed like all the pipes and power cables were out in the open in the same rooms and hallways the crewmen used anyway, and were thus easily accessible.

    I can see value in keeping fuel lines separate, maybe in armored pipes running through the ship, but it’s not clear to me if it would be a good idea to also keep them enclosed in sewer-like Jeffreies Tubes.

    • Jaskologist says:

      Is the real life space ship going to have children running around like the Enterprise does?

      • Another Throw says:

        Yeah, in a lot of ways the Enterprise is more like a cruise ship than a super carrier. A cruise ships—or really basically any ship except a warship—definitely has all the mechanicals hidden away in AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY spaces.

        ETA: Personally when I was a kid I just assumed they were crawling around in the tween decks. Which is a pretty good reason why there always so cramped.

      • John Schilling says:

        Did the Enterprise with the kids even have Jeffries tubes? I mostly remember those from TOS and NCC-1701.

        • Eric Rall says:

          They were in TNG, DS9 and Voyager, where they looked like this, this, and this, respectively.

        • Nornagest says:

          Yeah, they showed up pretty often in TNG — there was a set that tended to get used when the engineers needed to access some obscure piece of equipment, or when the crew needed to crawl around to evade the problem of the week. One character — I forget exactly who — liked to bring a portable keyboard into them for the acoustics.

    • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

      Seems very impractical if you also have normal-sized corridors, since I can’t see many reasons to why there wouldn’t be anything on the normal walkable walls. The only thing I can think of is to crawl between outer and internal hull to fix shield emitters or something, but it hardly qualifies as a tube.

    • John Schilling says:

      Barring Butlerian-Jihad style scenarios, spaceships are not going to be as intensively manned as oceanic warships are. On an oceanic ship, essentially the entire hull and superstructure are regularly accessed by the crew. On a spaceship, the crew will normally occupy a small fraction of the volume of the ship, with large sections being either rarely or never visited by humans. Particularly sections anywhere near nuclear power systems, which are likely to be off-limits unless the engines have been shut down for a few days. Note that the actual warp nacelles on Star Trek’s ships seem to fit this model.

      The other difference is, oceanic ships operate in constant gravity, so if you want even occasional human access you really want corridors tall enough for people to stand up and walk. Also, pressurized volume is expensive, so you’re not going to make the rarely-used access spaces any bigger than they have to be.

      So, unless you’re willing to write off large sections of the ship as never human-accessible, you’re going to have a requirement for passages that will be rarely used and not by people who have no need to stand upright. A one-meter tube that will pass one man in a spacesuit would be about right. Some of these will run a good fraction of the length of the ship, from the habitable volume past (or through) lots of propellant tanks and into the engineering spaces.

      Since you’re also going to need to run wiring, plumbing, etc, along the length of the ship, and since “where’s that damn short/leak/whatever” is one of the common maintenance tasks, it makes sense to route much of this along the same passages.

      Sounds like a Jeffries tube to me. Probably they will mostly be used by robots, and may even default to unpressurized.

  21. Plumber says:

    I feel like buying a science fiction novel or anthology in the next hour (between an awful cold and a hurting knee I don’t feel well enough to be effective at work right now, plus I just plain have a giant amount of “sick hours” banked I may use, so I left work early and plan to sit behind a bowl of chicken soup and hopefully a book).

    I have a giant pile of fantasy stories at home but I want to try some SF again, the last SF novelist I followed most was Larry Niven (Ringworld, etc.), I was profoundly disappointed by Neuromancer (the ascent of “cyberpunk” was one of the causes of me leaving sci-fi behind).

    If anyone has a quick suggestion I’d appreciate it (otherwise I’ll either pick up Draco’s Tavern again, or some detective novel).

    Thanks!

    • Frederic Mari says:

      I didn’t like the Neuromancer either. I’m into Cyberpunk in general, though. HardWired by Walter Jon Williams is easy to read and not overly philosophical.

      More recent and very interesting, IMHO – Alastair Reynolds and his whole Revelation Space. A bit harder to read but still easy enough if you like the genre. And an interesting take.

      Single book, not quite SF but I loved it – Lord of All Things by Andreas Eschbach. Most original take on the Drake equation I’ve read. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers.

      • Evelyn Q. Greene says:

        Snow Crash is a fun antidote to Neuromancer, but it’s still cyberpunk, so you might not like it either.

        For something that feels more like classic sci-fi Torchship Trilogy it good, and I second Frederic Mari’s recommendation of Revelation space.

        • semioldguy says:

          Seconded on the Torchship trilogy. I had previously seen it recommended here and enjoyed it a lot.
          I also enjoy many of Philip K. Dick’s short stories, of which there are several anthologies/collections.

        • Plumber says:

          @Evelyn Q. Greene,
          With two recommendations I turned around and bought Revelation Space.as well.

          Thanks!

        • Thirded on Torchship trilogy. I read through it twice.

      • Plumber says:

        @Frederic Mari,

        Thanks!

        I didn’t see Hardwired on the shelf at the bookstore (but I did see many other books by Williams).

        I ordered Lord of All Things, the bookseller told me it’s a translation from 2014 and it should be in next week.

        • John Schilling says:

          I didn’t see Hardwired on the shelf at the bookstore (but I did see many other books by Williams).

          Walter Jon Williams is pretty much always good, but he writes across a wide range of subgenres (including Hornbloweresque nautical adventuring in the age of sail). So, check the cover blurb or whatnot for the type of story, and if it’s of interest, expect it will be a good example.

          My personal favorite of his is Aristoi, which is old-school futuristic speculation on the subject of “if nanotech lives up to the hype, what sort of society results”, grafted onto a space-opera setting.

        • Frederic Mari says:

          Personally, I tend to use the Kindle app on my iPad. Simple download via amazon and they got the translation. Let us know what you think. I’m pleased to see my 2 recommendations were seconded.

          And now I’m interested in getting Torchship and Snow Crash (heard a lot about that one but was scared to buy it)

      • rmtodd says:

        Strong second on the recommendation on Eschbach’s Lord of All Things (and yes, it is a particularly interesting solution he came up with for the Fermi paradox). Eschbach definitely is an author who deserves to get more attention this side of the Atlantic, and more of his works translated (I’d love to see someone come out with English editions of Das Jesus-Video, Der Jesus-Deal, and NSA:Nationalesicherheitsamt).

        • Frederic Mari says:

          I’ve enjoyed his Trillion Dollar Man book as well but haven’t read the others. I don’t speak German… What about The Carpet Makers? That’s available in english but I wasn’t sure enough about it to purchase…

    • albatross11 says:

      The Murderbot Diaries are pretty fun, light SF. They’re in a somewhat cyberpunkish world, but without the grimdark aspects. (“Something in the corner made wet sounds and died” is a quote I remember from Neuromancer.) They’re arranged as a series of four novellas so far, so you can buy one and see if you like it before progressing to the next.

      The first two Vorkosigan saga books (Shards of Honor and Barrayar, packaged together as Cordelia’s Honor) are quite good, and introduce you to a whole series by Bujold that’s pretty internally coherent and very well-written. Also, there’s a really wonderful novel set in that universe much earlier called _Falling Free_ which I very much recommend–I wish Bujold would write more about the Quaddies.

      Cherryh has written a big series of stories in a more-or-less coherent universe (occasional inconsistencies crop up since she’s been writing in this universe for a couple decades now). One series within it which I really liked started with the book _Pride of Chanur_. I think she did a really good job of making aliens internally consistent and more-or-less comprehensible while also making them sufficiently weird to be aliens.

      If you haven’t read them, Niven and Pournelle’s _The Mote in God’s Eye_ and _The Gripping Hand_ were pretty good. And Niven and Pournelle wrote several other books together you might like–I’d love to hear what you think of _Oath of Fealty_, for example.

      • I agree with most of your recommendations, certainly including the Chanur books—I should have mentioned them. And Murderbot.

      • GearRatio says:

        I’d second Bujold but generally disagree about the starting point – I found the first two books to be sort of plodding and forgettable, while the third book (which is the first with the “real” main character of that universe) is quite a bit faster paced/more entertaining/better realized. When I try to get people to read the series it’s generally by trying to get them the read “The Warrior’s Apprentice” and then move forwards through the rest of the series from there.

        The nice thing is that no matter which one of us is right, it’s not like any of her books are bad (I’m more-or-less book misogynistic and I think she’s the best living writer). Plus, she wrote them purposefully to all be able to stand alone, so you can pretty much pick up any book in any series and it works out.

        • I’m more-or-less book misogynistic and I think she’s the best living writer

          I agree that Bujold is very good, but I find the idea of being book misogynistic odd. I would have said that a majority of the best authors currently writing in fantasy and sf are women, with Bujold and Cherryh perhaps the most striking examples. Both of them have not only written very good books, they have written a lot of them.

    • Cherryh is good in both sf and fantasy. If you haven’t read Foreigner, you might try that. If you like it, there are about 18 sequels, and she manages to keep the story interesting through all of them. Her Downbelow Station is also good. I just finished rereading her Morgiane trilogy (fantasy not sf), and it’s powerful stuff, especially for what starts as the first novel of a then unknown writer.

      Bujold’s Vorkosigan series is also very good.

    • Incurian says:

      Neal Stevenson, Iain Banks, Travis Corcoran. Dresden Files gets readable after the first few books, and there are a lot of books.

    • fibio says:

      I’m a big fan of Children of Time as a high sci-fi epic, but its not for the arachnophobic.

    • mitv150 says:

      If you just want a single novel, Vernor Vinge. I’d start with A Deepness in the Sky. It’s techinically “book 2” but it is not really a sequel to book 1. It is very hard to overstate just how good these novels are.

      If you want a series, The Expanse is incredible for near-future sci-fi with intricate politics.

      Alistair Reynolds wrote some fabulous space opera books.

      Richard Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs novels (altered carbon) are not too epic but are excellent

      • Nick says:

        I really liked Vinge’s first book in that series, A Fire Upon the Deep, but its sequel, Children of the Sky, was kind of disappointing. Still recommend the first one highly.

        • Thegnskald says:

          I’d recommend A Deepness in the Sky over A Fire Upon the Deep for anyone who has read a lot of sci-fi or fantasy already.

          A Fire Upon the Deep has too much travel time with random encounters. There’s only so much travel time with random encounters in books you can read before it starts to get a bit dull.

          • Nick says:

            Hmm, I’d been wary after Children of the Sky, but if you think A Deepness in the Sky is better than A Fire Upon the Deep, maybe I should pick it up after all.

          • Thegnskald says:

            I couldn’t finish Children of the Sky. I think I gave up about 30% of the way in.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think _A Deepness in the Sky_ is probably one of the two or three best SF novels I’ve ever read. _A Fire Upon the Deep_ was almost as good, but completely different in setting. _Children of the Sky_ was good but not in the same class as the first two books, IMO.

          • mitv150 says:

            Definitely agree with Thegnskald. Children of the Sky was comparatively weak, and Deepness in the Sky is not a direct sequel to FUTD.

    • DragonMilk says:

      Have you read the Foundation series by Asimov yet?

      • Plumber says:

        @DragonMilk says:

        Have you read the Foundation series by Asimov yet?

        Asimov’s Foundation (and his “Golden Age” short story collection) were in my elementary school library in the ’70’s and I read it then and liked it, and either it or Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles was the first science-fiction novel I read (okay I know Chronicles was more fantasy and more of an anthology than a novel), I liked it but I didn’t finish Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation until I was a teenager in the ’80’s, I haven’t read them since.

        My son read Foundation this last year and liked it as well (his previous SF readings had been Read Player One, and The Martian (neither of which I read), and Ringworld (which I read in the 1980’s), he’s also liked the Discord books and Tales of Robin Hood I’ve given him.

        • DragonMilk says:

          I’d definitely finish the series!

          The first is an anthology of short stories, but I think (?) the other two are pretty standalone stories.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Read John Scalzi with a friend recently – honestly so we could complain about wokeness. We were both converted. It takes a very slight suspension of disbelief at the gender reversal, and I suspect he’s very aware of the limits between politics, humor and ridicule – for example the ruling person’s title was Emperox. Anyways, still surprised but highly recommend. The actual book is The Collapsing Empire,, unfortunately a still ongoing series.

      For the opposite end of the political spectrum (of authors, as the books are a lot alike) look at Vox Day, quantum mortis: gravity kills.

    • AlexanderTheGrand says:

      DEFINITELY “The Best of the Best” by Gardner Dozois. He’s a pretty legendary science fiction editor, and made a very popular “The Year’s Best Science Fiction” short-story anthology every year for over 30 years.

      The Best of the Best is the highlights of the highlights. Some of my favories: It contains my favorite science fiction story ever, “The Wedding Album”, a beautiful story of a simulcrum’s sense of identity within its own and the outside world. (If you only want a taste, you can find this story separately pretty easily.) “Wang’s Carpet” is a unique story of “man’s” search for meaning in a futuristic transhuman society. “Blood Music” is an amazingly-done (and pretty creepy) story of the perils of pushing blindly forward with technological progress.

      Five stars. Strong recommend. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003J5654S/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i9

  22. johan_larson says:

    I changed jobs recently, and a lot of my new coworkers are Chinese. And they have some quirks, particularly around meal manners, like chewing with their mouths open and making a lot of noise, slurping and smacking their lips.

    Now, there is nothing wrong with doing so, but it is a notable and somewhat distasteful difference. By the standards of my culture, these are is the sort of childish bad manners that good parenting is supposed to do away with.

    But it got me wondering. Are there similar behaviors going the other way, common western behaviors that people from India or China, say, find distasteful?

    (Let’s keep the focus here on small-scale issues of manners and personal hygiene, and save the fulminating about female infantry and women drivers for other threads.)

    • Aftagley says:

      I’m an American, but two common complains about us that I’ve heard are

      1. We smile too much. Apparently people from different cultures find this creepy.
      2. I’ve heard from Germans that our overt patriotism (flags, national anthems, saying the pledge of allegiance in school) is weird, although I think this varies by country.

      • Thegnskald says:

        I’ve also heard we are loud. (In a broad sense, not just noise, although that too.)

        • SamChevre says:

          The stereotype of Americans as talking far too loudly is widespread in Europe in my observation.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            “Where I come from, they don’t like Americans much
            Think they’re so loud, so tasteless and so out of touch
            Stiff upper lips are curled into permanent sneers
            Self-satisfied, awaiting the next forty years

          • Back when I was a grad student, I ended up spending a night in the Salzburg Bahnhof, along with a bunch of English students. At one point I recited a poem, I think Dylan Thomas, and one of them said (by memory):
            “My God, an educated Yank.”

            My conjecture was that education and income were more closely linked in England than the U.S., and incomes lower, with the result that Englishmen who could afford to visit America were likely to be better educated than Americans who could afford to visit England–this was c. 1970, and I was thinking in terms of the previous few decades. So the English were comparing an Englishman who graduated from Oxford to an American plumber (not our Plumber) who graduated from high school.

      • Eric Rall says:

        Many years ago, I took a Spanish-language immersion course in Mexico. The program was aimed primarily at Americans who were doing business in Mexico or with Mexican customers or suppliers, so one of the classes was a seminar on Mexican business/work culture. The main thing I remember from that was that the teacher illustrated some key differences between American and Mexican cultures by presenting a list of common Mexican stereotypes about Americans. The ones I remember are that we’re dead-serious at the time, all work and no play, and meticulous and punctual to the point of fussiness. There were more that I don’t remember, but my overall impression was that Mexican stereotypes about Americans were very similar to American stereotypes about Germans.

        • Aftagley says:

          Interesting. I’ve gone through the mirror version of those training (IE – you’re about to work with Mexican/central Americans, here’s some things to be aware of)

          Two of the biggest takeaways were: don’t expect punctuality or for any proposed schedule to be treated as anything other than optimistic guessing and schedule meetings for longer than you feel like they could possibly take, because getting down to business will take forever.

          My actual experiences didn’t bear this out, but I was dealing with some pretty squared away characters who had worked with Americans before, so my results may have been atypical.

      • acymetric says:

        2. I’ve heard from Germans that our overt patriotism (flags, national anthems, saying the pledge of allegiance in school) is weird, although I think this varies by country.

        A couple thoughts. I feel the Germans are the outlier here…flags are pervasive throughout tons of cultures. I don’t know enough about Germany specifically to say if it was just the particular Germans you talked to or if that is something that is common to Germany generally. One thing that would make me suspect the former is that there are also Americans who find our overt patriotism weird.

        • Frederic Mari says:

          re. Germany and their distaste for open display of patriotism, I think the reason should self-evidently be their bad experience the last time a guy pumped them up about the Fatherland…

          But generally speaking, Europe tones down its patriotic displays. No private house in France flies the French flag (except, sometimes, during the World Cup football matches but that’s still rare). It’d be considered weird.

          I’ve heard the Swiss are a bit more prone to flying the flag of their canton but I can’t really confirm.

        • LesHapablap says:

          I can’t think of a culture that has as many flags as the USA. Certainly in New Zealand people think Americans are ridiculous with all the flag waving.

        • Aapje says:

          @acymetric

          My country is a bit Germanic, so perhaps we are lumped in with Germany. Government protocol in The Netherlands for government buildings is to flag only during a few days, consisting of the birthday of a few members of the Royal family as well as:
          – National Remembrance Day of the Fallen
          – National Liberation Day
          – Veterans Day
          – the official end of WW II for the entire Kingdom
          – Kingdom Day

          That makes for 10 days of flagging in total. It is customary for many homes to fly the flag on the National Remembrance Day of the Fallen (half mast), National Liberation Day and Kings Day. So that is 3 days.

          The United States Flag Code mandates that the flag is flown daily at the administration building of every public institution, as well as every schoolhouse, on school days. The government advises that people should run the flag on 19 days a year, but when I visited the US, I saw quite a few people who flew the flag daily.

          So the US has way more flagging.

          • Cliff says:

            I find this a bit weird, because most (almost all) people in the U.S. don’t own a flag and raise it on zero days. Yes it is at public buildings but its not like when I go to Europe I ask myself “where are all the flags???”

          • Aftagley says:

            Perhaps, but if you saw someone walking by in a T-shirt with the flag on it, or with a flag bumper sticker you wouldn’t get that weirded out, right?

            Or if at some kind of non-political event and people randomly started chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A” you wouldn’t think it was too abnormal, correct?

            This kind of stuff is utterly normal in the US and, afaict, not seen in most of the rest of the world.

          • Evelyn Q. Greene says:

            I find this a bit weird, because most (almost all) people in the U.S. don’t own a flag and raise it on zero days. Yes it is at public buildings but its not like when I go to Europe I ask myself “where are all the flags???”

            Every suburban neighborhood I’ve ever been in has multiple us flags, though usually on those little house mounted poles that don’t raise or lower. My neighbor growing up had an actual raising-and-lowering flag pole and I’ve seen enough of those in front of residential home that I
            don’t find it unusual.

            but its not like when I go to Europe I ask myself “where are all the flags???”

            I definitely notice the lack of flags in Europe, it’s weird.

          • Cliff says:

            Maybe it’s regional? Yes some people have house flags and there are probably a few in my neighborhood but I would say it’s 1% at most.

            I would not be weirded out by a flag bumper sticker but it would be exceedingly rare. A flag T-shirt would be weird I think, if it was just a flag and not an advertisement for something.

            A flag pole in a front yard is certainly a thing I have seen 2-3 times in my life, but it is exceedingly rare and unusual.

          • Plumber says:

            FWIW, in my old neighborhood in Oakland, California flag flying was rare (but the neighborhood was mostly apartment buildings), when I moved to a single-family homes neighborhood a few miles north in 2012 I saw a lot of American flags flying around July 4th (and also lots of rainbow flags for “pride week” so a Blue-Tribe neighborhood).

            After the November 2016 election I still see some but a lot less American flags, but one house on the block flys the flag year round.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I think I’ve seen a few flag poles. There’s one house down the street that has its own flag pole, but that’s the only one I can think of in this entire suburb.

            There’s a lot of those house-mounted US flags. Our house has one, and the house across the street has one, too. I generally see one on every block, so maybe 5% of homes.

      • AppetSci says:

        I saved this comment a while ago (maybe from SSC?) from a student working on the Holocaust Project recording testimonies from survivors. His professor talked about

        “a delegation of American students in the 1990s, carefully trained to do the interviews and fluent in Russian, who came to tape the survivors talking about their recollections —

        “And these flower-faced young Americans, smiling at us as we spoke of atrocities!”

        He said it was flatly unnerving, especially since their voices and words were sad and appropriate, and it was several years before he got comfortable with the idea that Americans smile sympathetically even when they’re sad, like to encourage you to keep talking, and that even at a funeral for her husband a widow will smile at you to show you she appreciates you coming. He said the interviewers would smile right up until they started crying! And then smile while they apologized for crying! He said after an initial period of shock he understood fairly quickly that they were sincere and serious people, they just had a dire smiling problem. But it took a long time to get comfortable with the cultural difference.”

      • pansnarrans says:

        I’ve heard from Germans that our overt patriotism (flags, national anthems, saying the pledge of allegiance in school) is weird, although I think this varies by country.

        The constant patriotism does come off as weird from the outside. Shouting “We’re number one!” seems almost like an inferiority complex. That being said, I come from a nation that’s ashamed of its national flag because it was co-opted by neo-Nazis. So who knows what the international waterline is?

    • ana53294 says:

      Public displays of affection are a no-no in Korea and Japan, from what I’ve heard. They do things like wearing couple clothing, but kissing in public is not done.

      Also, personal space is different.

      They always take off their shoes when entering a home in Korea and Japan, and sometimes even in public places like schools. They do that in Sweden and Russia, too, but less. I haven’t seen other countries doing that. It’s not done in Spain.

      • It’s occasionally done in the U.S., possibly due to influence from Japanese culture.

      • AG says:

        Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift made a whole comedic sequence of the American transfer student learning about the practice of changing into indoor shoes at school.

        Another big difference is how students are expected to clean their own classrooms after school lets out. This seems to be enabled by going with hardwood/tile as the standard floor, instead of a carpet that needs a more expensive vacuum.

        • Nick says:

          Another big difference is how students are expected to clean their own classrooms after school lets out. This seems to be enabled by going with hardwood/tile as the standard floor, instead of a carpet that needs a more expensive vacuum.

          Heh, you know, I’ve seen this a few times in anime and it’s never really registered. It may be because I remember cleaning the room as a class a few times; I think it was like a twice a semester thing, but I’m not very confident. ETA: Did anyone else do this?

          • Theodoric says:

            At my elementary/middle school (it was K-8) we had to wipe down the tables after lunch, but we did not have to do any other cleaning.

      • Aftagley says:

        They do that in Sweden and Russia, too, but less. I haven’t seen other countries doing that

        I wonder if this practice just tracks average days where your country is covered in snow. Taking off your shoes if they are maybe dusty from the road is way less important that taking them off if you’re going to track slush everywhere. Does anyone know if Japan gets a bunch of snow?

        • ana53294 says:

          The reason why they do it in Korea and Japan, from what I gather, is that they do (or have traditionally done) a whole bunch of eating while sitting on the floor, and they also sleep on the floor with a thin mattress. This means floors have to be cleaner than when you sleep on a raised bed, or sit on a chair and eat from a taller table.

          In Russia and Sweden, it could be because they had wooden houses, and wood gets ruined by dirt and water (melted snow).

    • I gather that one common source of conflict between people from different cultures is what distance they expect others to keep from them—whether you have a conversation from three feet away or one foot and the like. I don’t know how that plays out in the specific case of U.S. vs others.

    • sfoil says:

      Americans not removing shoes when they go inside a home is a big one, and I’ve heard actual complaints about it from representatives of several disparate cultures (Germany, Middle East, Asia).

      A lot of differences are only relevant comparatively. American “patriotism” — frequent display of the flag, people knowing the national anthem and singing it at public events — is weird to Europeans but seems pretty normal elsewhere.

      Others have mentioned general loudness from Americans.

      It wasn’t considered distasteful but Korean soldiers were consistently astounded that their American counterparts actually used the “thumbs up” gesture to communicate (most often to signal that some piece of equipment being moved around was in place and could be released). The explanation I was given was that they had seen it in movies before but variously thought it was something old-fashioned and archaic or just a made-up dramatic gesture, like a live-action version of huge anime sweat drops or something.

    • Chalid says:

      In lots of the world, western clothing is seen as extremely immodest.

      • Ketil says:

        Bare shoulders, legs, or sometimes also showing hair for women.

        For men: wearing shorts. I think in many cultures (including European countries), shorts are seen as children’s wear (at best). Some countries have relaxed work attire, and only salesmen wear ties, whil some (the British?) expect even programmers to wear formal clothes at work.

    • Robin says:

      Blowing your nose in public.

      I’m not sure about that rumour of us smelling like old cheese, especially to people from lactose-intolerant regions who seldom drink milk.

      • johan_larson says:

        I’ve heard stories about Vietnamese infantry being able to smell Americans. Apparently Americans smell of butter, which seems odd to me. I would have bet on cigarettes, particularly back in the 60s.

    • DragonMilk says:

      It is presumed that Americans exaggerate or outright lie in resumes and interviews, and I am often encouraged to exaggerate at least a little.

      Doesn’t fit with my personality though. I do a terrible job in interviews but exceed expectations once I start (relevant, as I’m 4.5 years into my current job and need to find a new one by end of June). I know my whole, “yeah I have no direct experience in that, but probably could pick it up fairly easily” attitude isn’t helpful.

  23. Thegnskald says:

    Those who advocate for the course their social groups espouse as the moral path have a tendency to become weakmen for that course, undermining the legitimacy of their own intended cause. This is because the moral course framework discourages truth-seekers (who are repelled by moralistic language) and encourages woo-seekers.

    Fundamentally I think this is one of the major problems with societal attitudes towards science, among other things.

    Alternatively, “If you think the experts are on your side, and you aren’t one of them, arguing on their behalf only makes your side look worse.”

    • AG says:

      It’s all in Gelman Amnesia context, though. How many insight porn writers are actually experts? What sort of empirical studies have the likes of Zizek or Butler run to underpin their ideologies?
      What looks like a weakman to one spectator seems like compelling stuff to another.

      See, for example, which movies and TV have sway over the audience. One audience’s cheese is another audience’s prestige.

    • eigenmoon says:

      The problem is that politically “look, here’s the moral thing to do” reads as “give us all the power, now!”. I don’t think the Left is even trying to hide it anymore. Woo actually translates to political strength, unlike legitimacy as determined by truth-seekers (as if anyone reads them).

      Socialists say that the existence of billionaires is immoral. Libertarians say that redistribution of wealth by force is immoral. The socialists believe that libertarians are willing to let millions rot in poverty without welfare support just to satisfy their irrational dislike for taxation. The libertarians believe that the best way to lift people from poverty is more capitalism and the socialists are going to ruin everything like they did time and time again. You can do some truth-seeking analysis of those statements but ultimately people choose by whether their appetite to eat the rich is stronger than their lust for freedom. And that choice lies in the domain of woo.

  24. ECD says:

    A few open threads back, someone asked about the accuracy of climate models. I lack the expertise to evaluate (and the access to read more than the abstract), but just stumbled across a paper that claims to review that question. The plain language summary states:

    Climate models provide an important way to understand future changes in the Earth’s climate. In this paper we undertake a thorough evaluation of the performance of various climate models published between the early 1970s and the late 2000s. Specifically, we look at how well models project global warming in the years after they were published by comparing them to observed temperature changes. Model projections rely on two things to accurately match observations: accurate modeling of climate physics, and accurate assumptions around future emissions of CO2 and other factors affecting the climate. The best physics‐based model will still be inaccurate if it is driven by future changes in emissions that differ from reality. To account for this, we look at how the relationship between temperature and atmospheric CO2 (and other climate drivers) differs between models and observations. We find that climate models published over the past five decades were generally quite accurate in predicting global warming in the years after publication, particularly when accounting for differences between modeled and actual changes in atmospheric CO2 and other climate drivers. This research should help resolve public confusion around the performance of past climate modeling efforts, and increases our confidence that models are accurately projecting global warming.

    • Frederic Mari says:

      Kevin Drum has a blog post on the topic and simplifies the graph : https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/12/climate-scientists-get-an-a-for-their-warming-predictions/

      To me, the imprecision of some models seem high but a -11% average is indeed pretty reasonable.

      https://library.wmo.int/doc_num.php?explnum_id=10108

      David Friedman was acting pretty relaxed b/c, well, who cares about a 1C degree increase? And it’s true. 1C is nothing.

      The problem is that it’s not 1C. It’s +4-5C in summer and -3-4C in winter. And the difference between 30C and 35C in summer is pretty drastic. It will screw up your quality of life. Unless you live in Kuwait and then it doesn’t matter – you can’t put a foot outside anyhow and are forced to live inside with AC in all cases.

      But I’m also concerned about the increase of extreme weather events. Heat waves are a pain in the neck. California fires seem to be seriously inconveniencing Californians…

      And, in Syria, drought + political fragility = civil war (see again that book I mentioned about the 17th century changing weather patterns being responsible for the death of 1/3rd to 1/2th of humanity from Europe to South America and including Asia and Africa)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issues_in_Syria#Five_successive_years_of_drought_(2006-2011)

      Not to mention…

      https://www.pasteur.fr/en/research-journal/news/tiger-mosquito-returns-france-51-departements-red-alert

      So, yeah, saying “oh, it’s only 1C on average, over 30 years, what are you crying about, you little sissy?” doesn’t feel like an adequate response. I do get the refusal to panic when, so many times, panics have been artificially inflated. But there’s a difference between the “moral panic” about D&D in the 80s and climate change.

      And, don’t get me wrong, maybe technological progress will solve everything. I’ve just heard about a company proposing to use solar energy to produce industrial heat (apparently, the biggest consumer of fossil fuels). Their pitch is “yep, we just solved climate change”. I hope they’re right.

      But the least we can do is treat this issue as the life threatening concern it is…

      • Chalid says:

        Unless you live in Kuwait and then it doesn’t matter – you can’t put a foot outside anyhow and are forced to live inside with AC in all cases.

        Maybe “you” can live inside, but surely these cities depend on a lot of laborers who need to spend a lot of time outside?

      • DarkTigger says:

        Two thoughts:

        So, yeah, saying “oh, it’s only 1C on average, over 30 years, what are you crying about, you little sissy?” doesn’t feel like an adequate response.

        While I agree to your point, I think your description of David Friedmans (the only person you name) way to argue is a little uncharitable, and won’t help to convice him and others.

        And, don’t get me wrong, maybe technological progress will solve everything. I’ve just heard about a company proposing to use solar energy to produce industrial heat (apparently, the biggest consumer of fossil fuels).

        We have the technology since 30 f***ing years. Winning heat from solar power is laughable easy and way more efficient than electricity. The problem is, it would be needed to be placed decentrally by local companies, who would still need to have access to a base load infrastucture, and no one wants to invest in that.
        You can propose all you want. If you can’t deliver an system that can be integrated into existing sites and amortizies in 5 years, nothing will change.

        • thevoiceofthevoid says:

          Winning heat from solar power is laughable easy and way more efficient than electricity.

          IIRC, industrial heat is almost always generated by burning the fuels directly at the factory, not from electrical heat. So “more efficient than electricity” isn’t really the relevant benchmark.

          Furthermore, I presume you’re talking about systems where sunlight is concentrated by mirrors and directly used to heat tubes of water or whatever, then that hot fluid is used to transfer the heat to whatever needs heating? That doesn’t work unless it’s currently sunny at your factory. If you had a method of switching the power source between sunlight and fuel, the system could reduce your power bill on sunny days, but at the cost of installing and maintaining additional, more complex infrastructure. I’m also not sure how much land area you’d need to power a factory. Energy efficiency aside, I think the more important metric here is economic efficiency. Is a [pulls number out o rear] 15% reduction in your annual fuel bill more or less than the cost to build and maintain this new system?

          • DarkTigger says:

            IIRC, industrial heat is almost always generated by burning the fuels directly at the factory, not from electrical heat. So “more efficient than electricity” isn’t really the relevant benchmark.

            I was talking more generally about using surfaces to collect solar energy. At least a third of all our energy needs are heat. Winning heat heat from solar power is far more efficient, and heat is easier to save than electricity. I just happen to think solar/thermal should be talked about a lot more.

            Furthermore, I presume you’re talking about systems where sunlight is concentrated by mirrors and directly used to heat tubes of water or whatever, then that hot fluid is used to transfer the heat to whatever needs heating?

            Solar thermal collectors can deliver surprising amounts of heat even on cold cloudy days. But for higher temperatures, you probably need mirrors, or some kind of heat pump.

            Energy efficiency aside, I think the more important metric here is economic efficiency.

            Well, yes. That’s what I meant. If a system is not able to pay for itself in a reasonable short amount of time, no one will invest in it.

        • Frederic Mari says:

          You’re right – I should be more polite/careful. David Friedman has been nothing but nice and his demand for rigour doesn’t seem isolated since he similarly was pushing back on someone talking about death rates/life expectancy.

          So – my bad and apologies.

          But I wasn’t really insulting him, just straw-manning his position, which isn’t cool either.

          • Thank you. You have been generally courteous in this exchange.

            The question for me is why you are so confident of your position. You pointed me at a newspaper article on how much temperatures had changed over a twenty year period in various French locations in each month. Looking at the graphic on that page, one observed that in some locations in some months temperature had gone down by several degrees, in some it had gone up by several degrees. That surely made it obvious that variation place to place and month to month was too large for any single month at a single location to tell us what was happening more generally—and that was without allowing for the variation due to the particular period chosen.

            You then noted that in your location in a particular month temperature had gone up by a lot, as if that was relevant. The only relevance I can see is that it might explain why you thought you had yourself observed global warming at first hand.

            But it is an explanation which demonstrates that, if so, you were mistaken, since what you were observing was something special to your particular location in that month. And that followed from simply looking at the graphic on the page you had pointed me at.

            Yet you don’t seem to have changed your view at all.

            I should perhaps add that the part of the orthodoxy I don’t dispute includes the claim of a warming trend, although it looks as though you greatly exaggerate its size. I’ve pointed you at the webbed NASA figures already.

            What I disagree about is the consequences. I don’t think you have offered any relevant arguments on that, beyond hyperbolic statements about how large the negative consequences are. Have you tried looking at the latest IPCC report to see how much sea level rise they expect? Looking at the flood maps page to see how much coastlines shift in due to any specific amount of SLR? Looked at the Lancet article on mortality for cold and from heat, surely relevant to whether raising average temperatures is likely to increase or decrease mortality? Done anything to check that the catastrophist claims you have accepted actually fit the available evidence?

          • Frederic Mari says:

            Thanks and, for the record, I do try to be polite most of the time. I do get annoyed by hypocrisy (not sure why) and mendacious/deliberately obfuscating argumentation (the results of having to deal with teenagers in the household – when he was young, we used to explain to my son why we wanted him to do the things we wanted him to do ; an unexpected consequence is that now he pushes back with bad faith argumentation – as he’s not yet skilled enough to support a losing position with good arguments – and that’s driving me up the wall).

            That said, I appreciate that’s not what you’re doing here.

            You ask me why I am so confident. I don’t think that’s the issue. We look at the same data and same environmental consequences and you say “well, this isn’t too bad/it might even be good” and I say “this is damn unpleasant and likely to get worse”.

            Ultimately, I suspect we’re going to find out whose vision was more correct b/c it seems unlikely we’re going to to do anything meaningful about climate change. We’ll have to pick this up in 20 years.

          • We look at the same data and same environmental consequences and you say “well, this isn’t too bad/it might even be good” and I say “this is damn unpleasant and likely to get worse”.

            I think it is clear that there will be both good and bad consequences to climate change. There are a few places in the world, most notably the Nile delta, where relatively modest sea level rise, which is what the IPCC projects for the end of the century, can cause serious problems. There are a few places, such as some parts of India, where even relatively modest temperature increases can cause serious problems.

            At the same time, the only effect on the food supply we can be sure of is CO2 fertilization, which doesn’t depend on the uncertain causal chain linking CO2 increase to climate effects and is well established by experiment. An increase of crop yields by about 30% (less for maize and sugar cane, the two major C4 crops), is a very big plus. Effects on temperature related mortality look to me to be positive, although everyone ignores the (positive) cold half of that equation while focusing on the (negative) heat half. Effects on habitable land area seem clearly positive, since habitability at present is limited mostlh by cold, not heat.

            It isn’t that I think the bad consequences are not bad. It’s that, in my view, you greatly exaggerate the bad consequences, imagining that warming turns Marsailles into almost uninhabitable desert when it actually makes it almost as warm as Houston, while ignoring the good ones.

            Which parts of my argument do you disagree with? Am I understating the scale of IPCC projections? Are my positives not large positives?

            Alternatively, does your view depend on projecting much farther than the end of this century, which is what I’ve been using for my arguments? If so, we can argue about how useful it is to plan for problems centuries in the future, given the limitations of our knowledge.

      • nadbor says:

        The problem is that it’s not 1C. It’s +4-5C in summer and -3-4C in winter.

        Are you sure you don’t have it backwards? Isn’t warming supposed to be stronger in colder times and places than in the hot ones? +1.5C in winter and +0.5C in summer? Where are you getting this from?